I’m sure Jake Humphrey is a nice guy. There, I said it. Conscience cleansed and caveats launched, I can now move forward to the brunt of my critique of the High Performance podcast, which must be one of the worst things ever created.
There are many things to dislike about the obnoxiously named product of Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes. The name is obviously one, indicative of the Linkedin-on-steroids personality which corrodes and permeates all its ramblings.
But the problem of High Performance is that the whole concept it purports becomes a massive distraction
Sometimes I can actually stomach podcasts that I don’t particularly enjoy the format of if the guests are interesting and lucid. Take Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO, which exists in a similarly pretentious audiosphere. His conversation with Davina McCall was equal parts moving and inspiring. You can’t argue he doesn’t pull some star guests and does often manage to prise them open, even the difficult ones.
But the problem of High Performance is that the whole concept it purports becomes a massive distraction. Professor Damian Hughes’s contributions act almost as a form of ventriloquism, as this Humphrey doll with a degree chips in to occasionally offer disruptive ‘insight’. Every time the content of conversation is dragged back to this undefined zone of ‘high performance’, its listening quality rapidly declines.
There comes a point when the whole pat-ourselves-on-the-back culture of certain podcasts reaches its optimum frustration
There is also an undeniable smugness to the whole affair which grates highly. A recent clip, which featured Gordon Ramsay discussing how he had sold his Porsche in order to afford a house deposit, rightly attracted some ridicule. If Alison Hammond can muster a Twitter troll criticising her for wearing a Rolex watch in a cost-of-living crisis, then of course these sorts of anecdotes dressed as life advice are going to annoy people. Any semblance of relatability quickly fades.
You don’t have to listen Thomas, you might think, and judging a whole hour’s conversation on one clip (which Humphrey did admittedly choose to share) is perhaps unrepresentative. But there comes a point when the whole pat-ourselves-on-the-back culture of certain podcasts reaches its optimum frustration. What’s wrong with normal people and normal conversations?
Nothing I say will of course stop Humphrey, Hughes and a million other wannabe podcasters trying similar tricks in the future. And people will continue to listen. But if the medium becomes dominated by such contrived rubbish, it loses its modus operandi. Anyway, you were alright on the footy though, Jake.