Pandemic or not, sometimes I’m not in the mood for reading. Or writing. Or sitting still. Or I have to do some cleaning, cooking, laundry, and I want some entertainment while doing so. Weeelcome to the world of podcasts!
Thanks to my excellent podcast app and its long list of ‘to be listened’ some charming and hilarious people from all over the world keep me company during housework, sewing, cooking, or decluttering. I’m quite a true crime nerd but also like to learn something new by listening to ADHD, mindfulness, history, and book podcasts. Still, my guilty pleasure will probably always be true crime. Guess I watched too much Murder, She wrote as a child …
So for today, I want to tell you about my 6 favorite true crime comedy podcasts. Since I don’t just want to mention a few shows without actually talking about it, I will split this post, with my favorite three shows included in today’s post and the other three in next week’s post. Mind you, I’m describing true crime COMEDY podcasts. This does not mean they degrade the victims in any way BUT this means they usually make fun of the perpetrators, their lives, circumstances and other stuff surrounding their crimes and person that is too friggin unbelievable to leave it out.
So without further ado let’s dive deep into some excellent pastime:
1) Crime in Sports – James Pietragallo & Jimmie Whisman
First things first: I don’t give two shits about sport – apart from the occasional snooker tournament or football (for my US-American readers: soccer) game I never watch any sports on TV or stay informed on what’s going on in the world of sports. Therefore, I couldn’t care less how overpaid, mentally unstable, steroid-ridden douchebags waste their potential on drugs, crimes, and a bad reputation. Still, James and Jimmy make these stories of people I never heard about even though they might even be famous absolute joyrides. James, the main narrator who also does all of the research, and Jimmy, the commentator who more often than not celebrates a very charming ignorance, are comedians living and working in Phoenix. They started Crime in Sports in 2016 and got big through their second podcast, Small Town Murder, which started in 2017. Today they tour the US with their live shows, mainly of Small Town Murder and occasionally also Crime in Sports.
Most of the athletes they talk about come from what they call “brain damage sports”, meaning American football, boxing, wrestling, hockey or MMA fighting. But there are others as well, like Wolfgang Schwartz, an Austrian former figure skater, or golf genius John Daly. And the guys are not just there for some cheap laughs and a lot of cursing. James does some thorough research on every athlete they talk about and presents an in-depth and manifold account that – depending on the respective story – also gives some insight into possible motivations and reasons for their actions apart from rampant drug abuse or a knack for drunk driving in stolen cars.
Like Olden Polynice – what a poetic name, right? – whose tragic but also impressive background story did not save him from failure and misfortune thanks to total and utter stupidity. Or Viacheslav Datsik, an MMA fighter who didn’t even need a fight to celebrate some brain damage. Listening to Crime in Sports, we dive headfirst in hilarious, unbelievable, and at times also tragic and sad stories told by James and commented on by Jimmie. The average episode lasts roughly 2,5 hours and thanks to thorough research more often than not they not only brighten my day but also teach me some pop culture knowledge I appreciate. For example, listen to episode 189 about James “Fly” Williams and then go listen to Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusher Man” – ever really listened to those lyrics as a white European middle-class kid from the 90s? Or did you ever realize just how much one can enjoy arugula? See, that’s what you learn when listening to James and Jimmie. Being roughly their age I even recognize some names when they talk about 90s wrestling (yes, I was THAT gal. In the heart of Europe. In the 90s. Thanks grandpa!).
The guys got me through anxiety-ridden days and nights, depression, and rough times, and they always make me laugh. They show me a different kind of world – not just crime, but crime in sports – and I’m looking forward to spending many more hours with them. Because – in-joke alert – they cheer this bitch up 🙂
Find them at Shut up and give me murder – Crime in Sports
2) Small Town Murder – James Pietragallo & Jimmie Whisman (again)
This was one of my first podcasts and I loved it from the start. I’m pretty sure it got me hooked on true crime podcasts in general. It’s also set the bar high for any other true crime comedy show I come upon. I’ve already talked about James and Jimmie, so I will skip that. The set-up of Small Town Murder is similar to Crime in Sports: James narrates the episode and does all the research, Jimmie comments on what James tells us and him.
Each episode James picks a small town with a dark and bloody spot on their otherwise often idyllic (white west) history and gives an in-depth account of what happened, why, how, and with what consequence. He describes the town and its history, gives us some stats as well as a real estate report, before giving us murder (sorry another in-joke for STM & CIS fans) and diving deep into regional shit. Similar to Crime in Sports they spread their love with their very unique charm and entertain us with stories that show us a different side of idyllic life in a small town. Early episodes are a bit shorter, around an hour but from episode 37 on are approaching the 2 hours mark.
Like I said before, they are hilarious, they curse a fucking lot, they are always respectful towards the victims and never toward the perpetrator and James again tries to paint a manifold picture of what led to the crimes permitted and the people involved on all sides. If you like some good small-town drama, and if you also like the occasional well-articulated, highly cynical joke, give Small Town Murder a try and find some funny friends there.
Find them at Shut up and give me murder – Small Town Murder
3) Bloody Murder – Tara Sariban & Barney Black
Australia might not be the first country to think of when it comes to serious and high-end crime and comedy, but that’s a mistake. Apart from well-known serial killers like Ivan Milat and the Birnies and the Bodies in the Barrels cases, Australia also has a rich history of organized crime. Bloody Murder is an Australian True Crime comedy podcast with a healthy amount of dark humor. Hosts Tara Sariban and Barney Black introduce us to “crimes from Australia and indeed around the world” and they live up to this promise. My favorite episodes are the ones when they talk about organized crime in Melbourne (mostly) and Australia in general, like their episodes about Carl Williams(53), Mark “Chopper” Read (38) or the Pettinghill Family (107), to name just a few.
Thanks to Tara and Barney I feel like I’ve been on intimate terms with ‘Uncle ChopChop’ Mark “Chopper” Read, while in reality, I’ve heard his name the first time a few years ago and only learned about his illustrious life thanks to the podcast. In most of the episodes, they split the podcast with Tara very often presenting crimes from around the world and Barney focusing on Australian crimes. Several episodes feature specials in which they discuss the Melbourne gangland war, corrupt cop Roger Rogerson and his ties to the underbelly, famous bushranger Ned Kelly, and other famous figures and stories from Australia’s darker history. They also collaborate with Combo Ford from True Crime Island (another great podcast) on several episodes.
Since I love and learning something new with every episode – and be it just an Australian slang term I didn’t know before – I can highly recommend Bloody Murder to anyone interested in Australian and international crimes told with a certain twist. Their in-jokes add to the general lightness of the podcast even though focusing on such serious topics. The curse like drunken sailors and both may find excellent job prospects working for phone sex hotlines as ‘Russian Tara’ and ‘Sexy Barney’ – find out for yourself what I’m talking about.
Want some true-crime flavored with a charming Aussie accent and a healthy usage of the word “fuck”? You’ve found the perfect podcast.
Find them at Bloody Murder Podcast
So if you’re looking to spend some quarantine time on a light note you may want to give these podcasts a try. The topic itself is not ‘light’ but James, Jimmie, Tara, and Barney make it clear that crime and comedy can indeed go together. Because (another in-joke-alert – sorry!): We may be assholes, but not scumbags …!
Next week I will continue with my final two (and a half) favorite true crime comedy podcasts.
Until then take care, stay safe & stay home 🙂