Selecting the very best of First We Feast’s best “Hot Ones” episodes from YouTube’s instant-classic show is no easy task.
Whittling this list down to 10 depends on your “Hot Ones” tastes: how good is the interview with host Sean Evans? How spectacular is the meltdown? How did the guest break the mold? Or did they show off superhuman sauce tolerance?
This list combines all flavors from the Sean Evans-hosted phenomenon. So without further ado, here are my top 10 “Hot Ones” guests.
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10. Paul Rudd (Season 9, Episode 12)
Paul Rudd ran the table without so much as a sip of water or milk.
The man doesn’t age. And he’s apparently immune to the effects of insanely hot sauce. Are these two things related? I don’t know if we’ll ever know.
Rudd is considered the acting type of “everyman.” Yet there’s less and less ordinariness about him as the years roll on. This “Hot Ones” appearance was no exception. Bear in mind, although Rudd is featured most often in comedies, he has some serious dramatic chops.
Look no further than his improvised scene with Evans toward the end of the segment. It clinches his top-10 status.
You can catch Rudd’s doppelganger, solo performance in Netflix’s series, Living With Yourself. It’s a great addition to the streamer’s catalog.
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9. Idris Elba (Season 9, Episode 10)
One of the iconic moments from Hot Ones came from Elba. His reaction to one of the special sauces has become a viral meme social media peoples use to express their shock in any context. Whether it be themselves, athletes, or historical figures.
I mean, it’s covering everything from real-world dating life to one of the most popular TV shows of all time. Observe this elegance in motion:
Elba is the man. Evans does a great job uncovering the actor’s multifaceted life. From Elba’s professional boxing victory in 2016 to his rap career and many things in between, Evans wrings far more than a mere meme out of this session.
8. Aubrey Plaza (Season 9, Episode 4)
Good acting is about making bold choices. In addition to flexing more of her dramatic chops of late, Plaza often finds incredible, offbeat behavior that results in top-shelf comedy.
Her “Hot Ones” episode confirmed her status as a comedic genius and one of the best celebrity interviewees. Notoriously awkward on late-night talk shows, this change in scenery allowed her to talk about that fact in depth.
She also provided some surprising and outrageous ways as she made her way down the gauntlet of sauces. I won’t spoil this one. Just watch it.
Aubrey Plaza is a sensation. Her agreement to do the web series should’ve come with a disclaimer, though. Maybe pulled right from the title of one of her best movies: Safety Not Guaranteed.
7. Gordon Ramsay (Season 8, Episode 1)
This man. I can’t even. Imagine what Gordon MIGHT say regarding the caliber of chicken wing Hot Ones cooks up for the show, and he probably said it. Only like 100 times worse with 1,000 times more profanity than you can fathom. Which is to say, there’s a lot of it.
But it’s so great. This is why the Internets were born. For moments like these. Ramsay is a TV star. He doesn’t disappoint. This may be his best performance ever.
How to even begin describing this ‘sode. Ramsay’s entire “Hot Ones” stint is an absolute riot. And although he may project a tough, gruff exterior, you’ll get a kick out of how he melts under the heat.
6. John Mayer (Season 5, Episode 16)
Can’t help but include the ever-engaging and fascinating singer-songwriter-guitar legend. Mayer goes more in-depth than you’d expect about his songwriting process and how things come together for him musically. He also gets personal about his hiatus to recover from vocal surgery in Montana.
He explains that he’s a comedian in a passive way and discusses how the media portrayal of him — largely self-inflicted, as he admits — led him to struggle telling jokes on stage. Because people already had a certain perception of him.
This is a guy who’s hyper-aware of the effects of fame, how it caused serious problems in his life and how he went about getting a grip on it after a period of years. Evans is incisive as all heck here, and there’s a little music at the end to enjoy!
5. Terry Crews (Season 4, Episode 12)
This almost doesn’t even need an introduction. The massive, chiseled Old Spice Man and frequent film actor are absolutely bonkers here.
Crews was a fine, if psychotic, U.S. President in Idiocracy. Let’s just say some of that temperament bleeds over into this very real “Hot Ones” segment.
There’s an eight-second teaser clip that plays right at the beginning of the episode. I burst out laughing, without fail, every single time.
He can’t pec flex his way out of this one. It’s physics. It’s inevitable. And that’s the secret sauce that makes this web show magical. Like the reality-distorting Old Spice commercials Crews crushed so thoroughly.
4. Russell Brand (Season 3, Episode 7)
Russell Brand is more of a YouTube philosopher than an actor these days, and that’s totally great. He’s a former media personality, so he knows how to play the game.
There are few celebrities who can bounce between absurdity, insight, meta-humor, and improvisation in an interview. This guy is a pro, and Evans just keeps feeding the fire. Pun intended.
Something about the pitch of Brand’s voice draws viewers in, and his wit is so quick it’s rather dizzying to keep pace with. He seems three steps ahead on every question and ready to execute some kind of bit.
Speaking of the improvisation element of his comedy: Brand has a special gift for those who stick around for the episode’s grand finale.
3. Bobby Lee (Season 2, Episode 34)
This stand-up comedian certainly doesn’t disappoint in the humor department on “Hot Ones,” but it’s largely at his own expense.
He was yelling at Sean for asking certain questions, yelling at people on the set, and yelling at whoever else is in earshot/the poor rep of his who greenlighted his appearance on this show in the first place.
Lee apologizes for his behavior, attributing it to the spiciness of the wings. Totally fair. He’s freaking out. He was even wearing a beanie through much of the episode and at long last took it off to let some of that steam escape.
But it was all too little, too late because, toward the end, Lee goes down in Hot One’s infamy when he, by all indications, soils himself at the table.
This incident wasn’t 100 percent confirmed on the episode due to some timely, tactful and tricky editing. Having said that, well…see this epic climax for yourself.
2. Bert Kreischer (Season 2, Episode 24)
Oh man, Mr. Kreischer has some wild stories from his party days. Which haven’t ended. His charisma and penchant for a killer time are nary matched by anyone.
If you haven’t heard “The Machine” story he tells about his study abroad experience at Florida State, whereupon he befriended the Russian mafia, you’re missing out.
Kreischer omits that epic tale due to his telling it frequently in his stand-up act and podcasts. But you won’t believe what else he has cooked up. You really won’t.
Oh, and of course, he removes his shirt. And let’s just say he has difficulties keeping the wings down in a tense, dramatic sequence.
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1. Eddie Huang (Season 2, Episode 10)
The polymath chef and restaurateur felt super confident he could blaze through all the hot sauces. So much so that he BEGAN with the hottest sauce, despite Sean Evans’ stern warning.
Poor guy. Sean tried to tell him.
Hubris is a common cause of a man’s tragic demise in fiction and life. This Huang-driven narrative lived up to that cliché.
Huang goes into full meltdown mode, frantically chugs milk and water, and can barely even speak for a good while. It’s hysterical.
There’s a point where the episode cuts out as Huang hurries to the bathroom. I’ll let you watch it in full to find out what happened to him in there. It’s a trip.