Hi, I’m Dax Shepard, and I love talking to people. I am endlessly fascinated by the messiness of being human, and I find people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings to be incredibly sexy. I invite you to join me as I explore other people’s stories. We will celebrate, above all, the challenges and setbacks that ultimately lead to growth and betterment. What qualifies me for such an endeavor? More than a decade of sobriety, a degree in Anthropology and four years of improv training. I will attempt to discover human “truths” without any laboratory work, clinical trials or data collection. I will be, in the great tradition of 16th-century scientists, an Armchair Expert.
Episodes with Smash Notes
Chelsea Handler (Evolution, Chelsea Lately, The Chelsea Handler Show) is a comedian, actress, writer, television host, producer and activist. Chelsea sits down the Armchair Expert to discuss how standup comedy is evolving, how she can tell by body type what drug a person can handle, and she admits that being known for insulting people puts them at unease when she first meets them. Chelsea discusses her path to realizing she wasn’t a very empathetic person, how people should look at change with open-mindedness instead of fear, and how she wanted to attack the issue of white privilege from her own perspective. Dax admits he doesn’t have as thick of skin as Chelsea while she explains the desire to keep putting herself out there in vulnerable ways.
BONUS EPISODE with Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Isabel joins the Armchair Expert to discuss caste systems in the United States, the patterns of regression in civil rights in this country and giving someone the basic benefit of the doubt. She explains assumptions of competence, how embedded assumptions are and that caste systems aren’t only about race.
Eric Lander is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician. He was a principal leader of the Human Genome Project and is the president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Eric joins the Armchair Expert to discuss his work with the Human Genome project, the practical applications they’ve found, and how collaborative biology has become. Eric describes how the Broad Institute came to be, how their data is starting to uncover connections between different diseases, and that we have a lot of challenges ahead that are going to take science to solve. Dax takes a few swings and misses with his 25-year-old biology memory and Eric explains why humility has to be a part of every bit of science.
Sara Gilbert (The Conners, The Talk, Roseanne) is an Emmy-Award nominated actress, director, and producer. Sara joins the Armchair Expert and discusses how she handled success at 13 years old, the difficulty of balancing her personal and public life at that age, and her time spent at Yale. Sara admits that conflict seems to always find her, the huge crush she had on Corky Nemac, and what inspired her to create The Talk. Dax asks her what made her not give up on the Conners and Sara explains the connection the show has to real life for its’ viewers. Best friend Aaron Weakly returns and helps double fact check Dax.
Bob Woodward is an American investigative journalist that started working for the Washington Post in 1971 and currently holds the title of associate editor. Dax discusses how bipartisan Bob’s reporting has been over the years, his rigorous search of the truth and how Bob has covered 20% of the presidents this country has had. Bob talks about the difference between a good faith f*ck up and a bad faith f*ck up, getting spontaneous calls from the president when he was writing his book, and the relationship that developed out of that process. The two discuss the handling of the virus and the inability to put together a cohesive plan. And most importantly, Dax asks who more accurately captured Bob in film, Robert Redford or Will Ferrell.
Jon Bon Jovi is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, record producer, philanthropist, and actor. Jon joins the Armchair Expert to discuss the sustainability of his music career, the two share in the false sense of confidence they once had, and Jon admits how crazy it is that he’s been making records longer than he hasn’t. Jon tells the story of his mob meeting with Howard Stern and how Bruce Springsteen joined him on stage when he was in high school. Dax praises Jon on all of the work the JBJ Soul Foundation (www.jbjsf.org) is doing and we have the most special fact check ever with special guest, best friend Aaron Weakly.
Aly Raisman is a two time American Olympic gymnast. Aly talks to the Armchair Expert about being a survivor of abuse, growing up in a sport where perfection is key and opening up about her mental health journey. The two discuss their experiences with trauma, the aftermath of sharing their stories publicly and staying strong despite potential triggers along the way. They talk about the lack of resources and support available to Olympians post-career and the importance of finding a strong sense of self outside of gymnastics. Aly and Monica also bond over the Magnificent Seven.
Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides) is an Academy Award & Golden Globe Award-winning screenwriter, director, producer, and actress. Sofia chats with the Armchair Expert about spending her childhood on set, how comfortable she always felt there and how she fought becoming a director because it seemed expected. She explains how she never felt oppressed by her father’s success in film, her time living in Paris and what it was like trying to track down Bill Murray. Sofia discusses how Kirsten Dunst became her muse and Dax asks Sofia for advice on how not to ruin his daughters’ lives.
Day 7. Dax gives the Armcherries a personal update. Recorded on September 21, 2020.
David Farrier is a New Zealand investigative journalist known for his documentary Tickled and documentary series Dark Tourist. David joins the Armchair Expert to discuss all things conspiracy theories, from QAnon to Wayfairgate to Flat Earthers. The two discuss how these conspiracies happen, what makes people susceptible to them, and how to have constructive discussions with their believers. Dax confesses how sad he is that he can’t hang out with David every day.
Sara Bareilles is a Grammy Award-winner and Tony and Emmy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, actress and author. Sara chats with the Armchair Expert about her awkwardness as a kid and how she found her place in community theater. Dax geeks out about the two attending UCLA at the same time and Sara tells him how she wasted a year of school credits abroad. She discusses her obscure overshares on stage, the bipolar lifestyle of musicians on the road, and how she feels a little like a superhero because she had covid already.
Leah Plunkett is a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She is the author of the book, Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk about Our Kids Online. Leah chats with the Armchair Expert about the pitfalls of sharing kids’ data on social media, the ways in which tech companies commodify human data and how she implements restrictions in her own house. Dax wonders how to balance the positive and negative sides of tech and Leah talks about using improv in teaching law. The two talk about possible solutions moving forward and Leah teaches Dax and Monica a new word.