What did Prince listen to in the car? This Instagram account may tell you

OverheardCelebs taps into our desire to hear what stars are like during less glamorous moments

The former Disney star Miley Cyrus flashing her bum at the bathroom sink? The perennial gentleman Harry Styles offering to keep watch on a fan’s dog? The late Prince fixing his CD player so he could listen to … Christina Aguilera? These are just some of the anonymously submitted stories shared by the Instagram account of the moment, OverheardCelebs, aimed at briefly curing our quarantine boredom.

Emma Diamond, Julie Kramer and Jesse Margolis, who previously mastered the art of running viral social accounts with their CommentsbyCelebs and OverheardLA Instagram accounts, are behind this new guilty pleasure. Featuring run-ins submitted by its over 80,000 followers, the new account taps into our desire to hear what celebs are like during the less glamorous moments of life – like at the karaoke bar, or when idly washing one’s hands in a public bathroom.

Yes, the comedian Dave Chappelle responded “holy sh*t you’re a random white dude!” when a fan exclaimed “holy sh*t you’re Dave Chappelle” to him in line at an AT&T store. And yes, Maggie Rogers knows what song you should pick at karaoke. The late poet Maya Angelou delivered lyrical, profound lines even while enjoying a casual meal, reportedly telling a passing toddler: “I’ve written a lot of poems during my life, but none of them as beautiful as you.”

One exchange involving Keanu Reeves in 2001 feels like an early aughts teenager’s fever dream. The actor purchased a ticket from a starstruck movie theater employee. Realizing they probably wanted his autograph, the Matrix star went off to purchase an ice cream from the concessions stand and signed the back of his receipt for them. And then he threw the ice cream away. (Of course Keanu avoids refined sugars!)

The account does not appear to have a stringent verification process. For example, one story claims the hip-hop mogul Diddy paid for two fans’ hotel stay after a hilarious, awkward exchange in the elevator, but followers were quick to question how the rapper would have known the names and hotel rooms of two complete strangers. But other posts include photographs to provide more credence to their claims. A tale of Styles stepping in and keeping eye on a stranger’s pup while they grabbed a pickup order is paired with a low-quality iPhone photo of the pop star holding a leash. (Spoiler alert: Styles still looks dashing even in bad lighting.)

A culture around sharing random tidbits about celebs that would never make it to the front pages of People or Us Weekly thrives on the internet. From the podcast Who? Weekly to the black-centric Instagram account The Shade Room to the Twitter account PopCrave, it’s obvious that we’re all desperate for temporary distractions from our lives. Regardless of whether the distractions are completely based in fact.

What will OverheardCelebs bring next? A story about Justin Bieber paying his cable bill while blasting Sinead O’Connor on his AirPods? Rihanna going through the carwash in a Tesla? Chris Evans helping a fan with her groceries? We’ll certainly be waiting to see.

• This article was amended on 8 October 2020 because an earlier version omitted Julie Kramer’s name as someone involved in the OverheardCelebs account.


André Wheeler

The GuardianTramp

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