Fact: Over here at BYT, we love to laugh. Also a fact: we love a good funny podcast (one of the top 10 sad moments of March for me was canceling our live edition of Who Weekly? at Lincoln Theatre (p.s. #SaveOurStages). Also a fact: We sort of wish there were 7 more seasons of Succession to power through right about now.
If all these facts apply to you as well (or 2 out of 3 will do), the new podcast from Wondery (which we know and love as the people that brought us true-crime masterpieces Dr. Death and Dirty John) called Even The Rich may be just what the doctor ordered (we also like semi-inappropriate wordplay as a defense mechanism).
The show, which like all the best podcasts is co-hosted by some funny friends, is about some of the most rich and influential family dynasties in the world. We take a look at what goes on behind the curtain to make these families tick.
Since the quarantine times call for making imaginary friendships happen, we caught up with Brooke Siffrinn and Aricia Skidmore-Williams so you can feel even more connected to them, and imagine you’re just part of the conversation next time you listen to Even The Rich.
Hi there – first of all, how are you? Where are you? How’s the self-quarantining treating you?
Brooke: Hi BYT!! I’m doing well here in Los Angeles! I’m an only child so I’ve been self-quarantining for a good 30 years already! I’m happy to be staying safe at home and enjoying the beautiful Cali weather from my front window!
Aricia: Hi BYT! I’m doing well, all things considered. I’m in Los Angeles, so I at least have good weather through all of this – though I can’t enjoy it like normal! Self-quarantine is treating me well. I miss hugging people, though. But I’m keeping busy. I’ve been baking up a storm, teaching myself how to juggle, doing puzzles, watching a LOT of tv/movies, and of course, recording episodes of Even the Rich!
Any good books, movies or shows you’ve seen or read in the last few months?
Brooke: I recently started binging Superstore and I am obsessed!! It’s hilarious and I have my fingers crossed for at least 15 more seasons!
Aricia: Yes, actually! Like everyone else, I find myself with an abundance of time on my hands and have rediscovered my love for books. I read Little Fires Everywhere when quarantine first started and I’m waiting for my friend to finish it so we can watch the Hulu series together. I just finished bingeing Netflix’s Dead to Me – it was really good and I may or may not have watched all two seasons in one day. I’m also doing a rewatch of Mad Men – Jon Hamm can help with any quarantine blues, that’s for sure!
How did you two meet, and how did you become friends?
Brooke: Aricia and I met working for a valet parking company that did events all over Los Angeles for some VERY wealthy and sometimes VERY famous people! For me, Aricia was definitely one of those people that you meet and think, “Okay, I don’t know if you know it yet, but we will be friends.” We are both super sarcastic and hit it off immediately!
Aricia: We met parking cars! More specifically, Brooke was a manager for a valet company and she’d posted in a group about needing drivers who can drive manual and, since I drive a stick shift and needed money, I figured why not? We only met over email at first, but we bonded at our first event together over our love of comedy and our disdain for rude people.
Where did the Even the Rich idea come from? What itch were you trying to scratch? What was MISSING from your gossip consumption news?
Brooke: Even the Rich was an original idea by Wondery! The name is based on a Telenovela whose name translates to “The Rich Cry Too”. Aricia and I saw a casting notice online and auditioned to host the show! We felt like no one was telling the kinds of stories about rich families that we wanted to hear. Everyone wants to talk about the mansions and lavish lifestyles. We, of course, talk about that too, but we also wanted to look at the ways rich people struggle with the same things we all do – like love triangles and family feuds.
Aricia: It’s the idea of ‘Stars, They’re Just Like Us’ you see in magazines. I think we, as a society, put wealthy people on another tier and forget that at the end of the day, they have human feelings, emotions, and reactions, like everyone else. The name of our show was inspired by the name of the Mexican soap opera, Los ricos también lloran, which translates to the rich cry too. In other words, just because you have a lot of money doesn’t mean you don’t also deal with emotions. And I think that’s what’s missing from normal celebrity news – you hear about mansions and extravagant shopping trips in Europe, but Even the Rich pulls back the curtain on what everyone more or less already knows about these families and empires and show what’s less known beneath the surface.
How do you prep for each episode? What are some of YOUR favorite sources of celebrity information?
Brooke: Wondery has an amazing team of writers and researchers who really go the extra mile to help us tell these stories. Once a script is written, Aricia and I have the opportunity to go in and add any jokes or bullet points for banter. Aricia and I both have backgrounds in improv comedy, so we like to keep our banter as off the cuff as possible and a lot of the time, the banter you hear in Even the Rich is all in the moment when the mood hits us! My main source for celebrity news is actually Twitter, because it’s a hub for any entertainment news you could ever want!
Aricia: We have an amazing team of writers at Wondery who collaborate on each episode. Brooke and I get the episode in advance and read through it, making edits we think will help push the story along. However, since we both come from improv comedy backgrounds, we have a tendency to occasionally veer off script when it comes to banter, which I think gives the show a little flair unique to us. Twitter is definitely my favorite jumping off point for celebrity information. Oftentimes, if I hear something, I’ll immediately go there to find out more.
How do you pick who gets analyzed and who doesn’t? Is there a checklist of who is worthy and who is not?
Brooke: There isn’t necessarily a checklist. We usually look at story elements first. Are there enough layers and surprising details? Are there characters that we care about? For example, in season 1, we covered the similarities between Princess Diana and Meghan Markle and we were so fascinated by them. They truly are so much more than just spoiled Royals. You root for them. We also love to look for stories that are multi generational.
Aricia: There isn’t necessarily a checklist of who is worthy or who isn’t; we look for wealthy families who have been in the public eye in some capacity. We want to dive into the stories of people that we already know but don’t know very much about past the superficialities we find in the media.
Is there anything new you’ve learned while planning / researching? Something that surprised you?
Brooke: I have learned so many things I didn’t know before. We all have this outside vision of what fame and power look like, myself included. One thing that blew my mind was that Rupert Murdoch’s son James helped launch the record label that signed Eminem.
Aricia: I was shocked at the feud Diana had with her stepmother. I was also very surprised at just how much Charles neglected Diana throughout the course of their relationship. My heart breaks imagining how isolated she must have felt.
What has your favorite celebrity gossip story been in the last few years?
Brooke: I think I’d have to say the ongoing feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift. It’s a constant rollercoaster!
Aricia: Oh man, where to start?! I guess my favorite was around Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt at the Oscars last year. The first photos came out and everyone was going crazy at the possibility of them reuniting and then photos from different angles were released and the narrative shifted. I thought it was a great example of how often we’re not given the full story or we’re told what to think based on the pictures that get printed.
What about in the duration of the quarantine?
Brooke: Aricia sent me a Twitter thread of people sharing their stories of what it’s like working for Ellen Degeneres and it sent me down one of the longest Twitter rabbit holes I’ve ever been in.
Aricia: The Twitter thread where an ex-Ellen Degeneres employee asked for anecdotes of Ellen treating people cruelly definitely caught my attention. I actually texted the link to Brooke when it happened and we spent hours speculating what stories were true and what ones were being made up for attention.
What would your DREAM gossip story be, if you could flip a magic wand and make it happen?
Brooke: That the Kardashians are all actors who were paid to come together and put on a media circus.
Aricia: We find out the Illuminati is real, but all they do is meet once a month to grill and share daiquiri recipes.
What does it feel like to launch a celebrity gossip podcast?
Brooke: First, I think it is important to note that while Even the Rich does dive into the drama, we never want to gossip. We are always prioritizing the tellings of these stories in the most factual way possible.
The process of launching Even the Rich is one that was new to both of us! We are dealing with stories and families that are super well known and the perception of some of them has been around so long that there are definitely strong feelings out there.
Aricia: To clarify, Even the Rich isn’t a celebrity gossip podcast – we definitely dive into the drama of the rich, but we never want to gossip. It’s most important that we tell these stories, facts-first. The feeling is amazing! As we all know, people are complex, and we now have the opportunity to showcase that to our listeners – the complexities and intricacies that aren’t going to make headlines, but are just as important.
What does it feel like to launch a show DURING a global pandemic? Does that make it funnier, more absurdist or….?
Brooke: We started recording Even the Rich in late January, so launching during the pandemic was definitely not planned. We’ve found that people enjoy it as an escape from what’s going on in the world. While we do cover some serious topics, Aricia and I try to keep it as light as possible in an attempt to spread some laughter.
Aricia: It’s truly happenstance that things unfolded as they did. We actually started recording the end of January before things got as crazy as they did and our release date just happened to coincide with the week California went on lockdown. I’ve always found stories of the uber rich to be absurd simply because I can’t possibly understand their reality, and I think we deliver these stories with humor that make them palatable versus irritating.
Any podcast recommendations, beyond yours?
Brooke: I highly recommend Dying for Sex! I definitely think anyone who loves Even the Rich will love that show as well!
Aricia: I’m a huge Justin Long fan so Life Is Short is high on my list. I find people fascinating – we are all a culmination of our life experiences, each intricately unique to us. I love hearing him talk to people, and the stories and anecdotes always leave me wanting more.
Check it out here: Even the Rich (brought to you by Wondery)