Formats Unpacked: Hot Ones
Why are the world's biggest stars lining up to eat hot chicken wings and answer even hotter questions?
Thanks for reading and making Wednesday my new favourite day of the week. A lot of you have suggested video formats, which is great, they’ve been FANTASTIC! I should say that I’m open to all kinds of formats - radio/games/quiz/social/magazines. I’d love to see a joke format unpacked if anyone has a favourite.
This week’s unpacking comes from Chris Unitt. Chris writes the brilliant Cultural Digital newsletter, which is a must read for anyone interested in how cultural organisations show their work online. He’s also the founder of research and analytics consultancy One Further. Over to Chris…
What’s it called?
Hot Ones (YouTube series)
What’s the format?
Hot Ones is the show "with hot questions, and even hotter wings.” It’s a YouTube series where celebrities answer questions while eating chicken wings smothered with hotter and hotter sauces.
What’s the magic that made it special?
The special magic ingredient - the spice in the sauce, if you will - is the way that each 20+ minute interview is guaranteed to become more compelling as it goes along. How many interview shows can you say that about?
The questions posed by the host, Sean Evans, are well researched softballs. The guests would all be having a comfortable enough time if they weren’t having to endure increasing levels of physical pain.
Army training prepares you for this sort of thing, media training not so much. By the time you reach Da Bomb - the scorching hot and apparently not-even-that-tasty 8th sauce - it's hard not to let your personality show through.
Will the guest tear into the wings with reckless abandon, or nibble them timidly? Tough it out, or sweat and swear profusely? Persevere or make excuses and quit? That’s the joy of it.
There are plenty of gimmicky celebrity interview series on YouTube right now. They’ve displaced the churned-out press junket interview in a world where, audiences are built on share-ability and you’ve got to be remarkable to stand out. I reckon Hot Ones has perfected the formula.
Or maybe Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, or Shia LaBeouf.
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I’ve been obsessed since Chris first pointed me towards Hot Ones. It’s hugely entertaining and builds brilliantly. Sean is a great host - he’s very likeable and takes the heat in his stride. And it’s always good to watch Noel Gallagher suffer.
If you have thoughts send them over. And let me know if you’d like to contribute. More unpacking next Wednesday.
Thanks for reading.
I'm a huge fan of Hot Ones - it's a fantastic format the spice strips back the celebrity. It reminds me of the first few hundred Nerdist podcasts, they caught people just off guard enough to open them up. It's also amazing to hear megastars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise grapple with the format.