One of my favorite pieces of broadcast journalism these days comes from an unlikely source. In recent years, the YouTube series “Hot onesTaught a masterclass on the art of celebrity interviewing.
The show is somewhat precluded from being celebrated by mainstream journalism institutions such as the Columbia Journalism Review due to its odd concept – succinctly presented by host Sean Evans at the start of each episode with the phrase ‘You’re watching’ Hot Ones ‘.’ it’s the show with burning questions and even hotter wings.
For those unfamiliar with its fame, âHot Onesâ is an interview show where guests eat increasingly spicy chicken wings between each question.
I honestly believe that if you would run that same show on a cable broadcast or news network, it would be highly regarded as one of the greatest interview-based shows of all time.
And the celebrity interview genre is hard to gauge and just as hard to celebrate.
At some point in life, you realize that every guest you’ve ever seen on a late-night talk show is just there to try and get you to play their album, go see their movie, or buy their cookbook. This isn’t the buddy situation that the host and guest want you to believe – it’s purely transactional.
The guest comes on the show to advertise their product, and the host, in turn, reaps the benefit of that celebrity by attracting viewers to his show – this is cold, capitalist reality.
The host’s team also engages in a âpre-interviewâ with the guest to find out what they want to be interviewed about when they appear and what stories they might come up with.
The host behind the desk – whether it’s Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres, or David Letterman – then conducts the interview as scheduled.
What seems, from an audience perspective, to be a funny conversation between two friends is actually a cold, highly manufactured marketing endeavor.
On the other hand, “Hot Ones” shies away from most conventions of this genre and blatantly pokes fun at a lot of them.
On the one hand, the show’s concept is both a fun gimmick, but it’s also a commentary on the tired celebrity interview genre. In a maintenance On “The Today Show” in 2019, Evans described the show’s origin as “trying to solve a problem.”
âCelebrity interview shows are boring, how can we make them non-boring? Evans said. “Our solution for that, hot sauce.”
Many talk shows probably could have had this hot wing gadget and had modest success with it. But without the journalistic good faith of Evans and his team, the show wouldn’t be an incredibly interesting interview show.
There are many compilations on YouTube of âHot Onesâ guests complimenting Evans on his interview skills, with many comments, âThat’s a great question.â
With his interesting and unusual questions, you can tell that Evans and his team have done their research. A âHot Onesâ interview is methodical, intentional and organized for each guest.
In an interview with the âH3 Podcast,â Evans described each new Chicken Wing as a ânew act,â which allows him to structure the interview more than others. Instead of a constant stream of questions being asked of the guest, each question arrives at a consistent cadence. As Evans says in the interview, it breaks a long interview into manageable chunks.
The reason I think the show is so successful and has become one of my favorite sources for celebrity interviews is the care that the team behind the show has obviously put into it. Evans, who studied audiovisual journalism at the University of Illinois, takes his job seriously and sees “Hot Ones” not only as a fun opportunity to show celebrities panicking about Spicy Wings, but also as an opportunity. to dissect and reinvent the celebrity interview.
If mainstream journalism institutions and the public took “Hot Ones” as seriously as Evans and his team, they would realize that it is much more than a chicken wing show.