Dax Shepard is probably most recognizable for his acting roles in comedies like Without a Paddle, Punk’d, and CHiPS, or from his six-season stint as Crosby Braverman on the show Parenthood. What you may not know is that Dax is a recovering addict with a background in improv comedy and a degree in Anthropology. His unique experiences make him an interesting host on Armchair Expert, his podcast, which “celebrates the messiness of being human.”
Although Dax hosts celebrity guests and noted experts in various fields, his podcast takes the form of a conversation more than it does an interview show. The audience gets to know Dax and his co-host, Monica, as well as their guests. Listening to the show almost feels like eavesdropping—especially because Dax doesn’t have any qualms about exploring personal vulnerabilities (his own or his guests’) and big questions. Each episode is in turns funny, thought-provoking, revelatory, and heartening. If imperfect humanity and our struggles with ourselves interest you, you should give it a listen.
Here are a few episodes I’d recommend to get you started!
Episode 1: Kristen Bell
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Starting off Valentines Day right with a few audible love letters. The first three episodes of Armchair Expert are up now! It’s only fitting that my first guest is my #1. Happy Valentines Day, @kristenanniebell. Love, your armchair expert. http://bit.ly/armEXPERT or link in bio.
The episode is memorable because it begins with Dax admitting that he wasn’t as kind or accommodating as he should have been, noting that he and his wife start the podcast with almost an immediate argument. But in honest Armchair fashion, he presents the show, mess and all, giving the audience an opportunity to see beyond the “perfect” façade and into the reality of his marriage. This episode is a good introduction to Dax’s continual self-examination and desire to work on his flaws, a theme throughout the podcast.
Episode 4: Jimmy Kimmel
This episode is a fun and hilarious conversation between two good friends. The rapport and love between Jimmy and Dax is palpable, and their stories make for almost two hours of straight up entertainment and enjoyment.
Episode 25: Dax’s Mom (Laura Labo)
Dax talks about his mother and her influence on his life throughout his podcast, and this was a very special episode. The “the #1 love of his life” tells her story, and we get to ride along: through single motherhood, relationships, self-employment, success, and failure. It’s a messy ride, but a heartwarming and touching one, with plenty of life lessons along the way.
Episode 35: Jason Bateman
Dax is very candid about his journey to sobriety, and here he talks with another actor who has chosen a sober life. Although their discussions of alcoholism and AA are enlightening and introspective, this was also the podcast that almost killed me with laughter when Dax and Jason went down a rabbit hole ending in an extended debate about the best way to wipe after going to the bathroom.
Episode 45: Yuval Nahari
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Every now and then we have a guest that truly blows our head off our shoulders. We can’t believe our outrageous fortune to have sat down with author and historian, @yuval_noah_harari. His brain works on a sublime level and we are ecstatic to share this masterclass with you today. #ExpertsonExperts ❤️🍒❤️🍒❤️🍒❤️🍒
This is one of the Expert on Expert shows—episodes in which Dax hosts an expert in a field of interest to him. Some experts have included child psychologists, writers, addiction recovery physicians, and more, including Nahari, a best-selling historical anthropologist. The discussion in this episode of human motivation, historical consciousness, and our future as a human race blew my mind and led me straight to the bookstore to buy Nahari’s books.
Episode 59: Conan O’Brien
Conan and Dax talk not just about Conan’s long career behind the scenes in comedy writing and his almost accidental onscreen career, but also about Conan’s mental health and his struggles accepting help when he needed it. It’s an honest and open discussion about artists, the artistic temperament, and depression that is important to hear.
There are plenty more episodes aside from these, but this should get you started on your way to becoming a fan—an Arm Cherry, like me!