Charlamagne Tha God and Andrew Schulz met at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2012 after being cast on Guy Code. Despite it being their first time hanging out, the two spent that night at a club with Rihanna, after the pop star responded to Charlamagne’s tweet: “Yo, I’m drunk in LA.”
The two have worked together several times outside their podcast, The Brilliant Idiots, and across multiple MTV and MTV2 series. They have fiery debates every day—whether it be via text or in person—and broadcasting them was an obvious move.
With a 5-star rating and ranked at No. 29 for comedy pods on iTunes, The Brilliant Idiots is reaching listeners all over the world, including parts of Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Africa. The show first debuted in April 2014.
“I always have these conversations with Andrew anyways and I wanted these conversations to be heard by a larger audience,” Charlamagne tells the Daily Dot.
The show breaks down issues of the week in a style that is sharp, educational, and sure, sometimes idiotic. Ranging anywhere from an hour to two, the Brilliant Idiots explores topics that aren’t always popular to talk about in a public setting. It's politics—at the table.
Charlamagne is known for being a radio personality on the nationally syndicated Breakfast Club, and his own show Uncommon Sense with Charlamagne. He has a book coming out this spring, Black Privilege.
But before all the entertainment opportunities, he was better known as the guy on Twitter who had no filter and would call out everybody. Like, say, asking Dr. Oz if he’s smashing Oprah and referring to Kanye, in person, as Kanye Kardashian. Being censor-free and blunt has turned him into a leading digital age comic.
Schulz, an actual standup comedian from New York, is also an actor. Like Charlamagne, Schulz is loud and touts his lack of a filter. It's a dynamic that serves their podcast well. From race relations to rape culture, it's all on the table.
“I’m just going to say what I feel. I just got to hope that it touches the right people. I’m not going to change who I am or my opinion for people whose minds can’t be changed anyways,” Schulz says about the string of negative comments that pepper his iTunes reviews.
Although their mentions are usually swarmed, both Charlamagne and Schulz make having a conversation and giving explanations to their listeners a priority.
“I love the interaction and conversation. Twitter is just a big group chat to me, as long as there is proper dialogue. Once I sense that you are somebody who is not open to new ideas or new information and you’re literally just trying to prove this bias that you have, the opportunity cost of talking to you is just too high,” says Schulz.
That’s what sets this podcast apart. The postgame conversation happens on Twitter, and never really ends. The lecture comes with office hours.
“We can’t run away from these conversations,” says Charlamagne. “Black people can’t be afraid to talk about race when it comes to white people, and white people can’t be afraid to talk about race when it comes to black people. We need more communication. We need to try to dispel some of these misunderstandings.”
In a recent episode, Charlamagne and Schulz discussed rape culture in society. The two made it a point that the definition of consent is decided by the woman and that men need be fully on the same page as a woman before engaging in sex. They also explained the difference between sexual assault and rape. This, like many of their other topics, is a sensitive subject that has to be talked about carefully.
“If I feel I was misinterpreted or wasn’t communicating what I said well, then I will definitely try to do that better. That is something on the podcast that you definitely have to take into consideration. If I am going to make a point that is about gender or race, I have to be very careful in how it's articulated because I know there are people out there who are waiting on me to push it the wrong way,” says Schulz.
On an episode about race, Schulz and Charlamagne discussed their different views on Dr. Umar Johnson, the Prince of Pan Africanism. Schulz referred to the psychologist as a “black Donald Trump” and was in disagreement with his ideas of only dating within your race and his homophobia. Charlamagne on the other hand, did not agree with everything Dr. Johnson stands for, but was more willing to bring publicity to his voice because it provided a unique, interesting perspective.
“The one thing I like about Andrew is that he is unapologetically himself,” Charlamagne says glowingly about his sparring partner.
Each episode results in disagreements and changes of perspective. If the conversation is productive, they’re doing their job.
“Some people may like me, some people may not like me. Some people may like Andrew, some people may not like Andrew. That’s just the way it goes,” says Charlamagne. “That’s why at the end of every episode I say, ‘Yo if you listen to this podcast and you think we’re smart and intelligent, you’re right. If you listen to this podcast and you think we’re just a couple of idiots who don’t know nothing, you’re right too.’ That’s why it’s the Brilliant Idiots podcast.”
When it comes to reading reviews, the two are complete opposites—mostly because Charlamagne will conduct a search to see what people are saying.
“I stay in my mentions. I’m the dude that will type in 'Brilliant Idiots' or 'Charlamagne' and see what the hell people are saying. And people will be like 'Ooh you search your name' and I’m like 'Yeah, and if your name was worth something, you’d search it too,'” he says.
Despite the comedy rating on iTunes, neither Charlamagne or Schulz consider the podcast to have a specific genre.
“I wouldn’t call it a comedy. I wouldn’t call it a self-help podcast. I wouldn’t even call it an educational podcast. It’s just two people’s views on the world. Politically incorrect views, and potentially dangerous rhetoric,” says Charlamagne.
With everything making its way from linear to digital, podcasts are the most on-the-go media. It's a medium the show's hosts see not just as an extension of their star power, but maybe what they've been meant to do all along.
“I love the cutting edge of [podcasts] and I love doing the Breakfast Club. It’s a great look. It’s just a different energy when it’s no commercials, no restrictions of the FCC, you can go on there and there’s no time restraint,” says Charlamagne.
With two years under their belt, both hosts hope to see the show get even bigger in the future. Charlamagne has plans of turning it into a cartoon and compared its flippant, politically #woke style to The Boondocks.
“I want it to be the podcast, the biggest one,” says Schulz, “I don’t see anyone else having the conversations that we are having. They don’t have the combination of the seriousness and silliness—and absurdity.”