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A killer Canadian podcast: How 'My Favorite Murder' was born

Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark dissect some of scariest true stories ever to hit the headlines — but its fans find it extremely funny.

As the genre continues to expand, true crime has started to reach the world of comedy. Hosted by Karen Killgraff, left, and Georgia Hardstark, My Favorite Murder is the third most popular podcast on the iTunes comedy chart.

handout/the canadian press / Unknown CP

As the genre continues to expand, true crime has started to reach the world of comedy. Hosted by Karen Killgraff, left, and Georgia Hardstark, My Favorite Murder is the third most popular podcast on the iTunes comedy chart.

It might just be the darkest of dark humour on display at Just for Laughs.

On Sept. 30, the Toronto comedy festival will feature a live taping of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark will dissect some of scariest true stories ever to hit the headlines — but its fans find it extremely funny.

Although the podcast is just shy of two years old, its roots go back much farther.

“When I was growing up, my mom and dad would always talk about stuff that was going on. I’d always ask and they’d tell me, ‘We’ll tell you when you’re older,’ and send me out of the room,” Kilgariff said.    

Then, at the age of 12, she discovered the true crime genre. “I thought, ‘This is what they’re keeping from me!’” she said. She’s been hooked ever since.

When the two met at a Halloween party in 2015 and discovered their mutual fascination, My Favorite Murder was born. The podcast is a free-flowing conversation, alternately serious and funny, focusing on particularly gruesome murders, often with no discernible motive. Cannibals, kidnappers, child molesters and dismember-ers are their bread and butter. Although they’ve occasionally spooked themselves with their own content, the hosts say facing the worst of the worst head-on actually helps them process fear and anxiety

As the hosts themselves are quick to point out, such incidents of “stranger murder” are exceedingly rare. You’re far more likely to get offed by a friend, partner, neighbour or family member.

They’ve talked about a few Canadian killers since the show began in early 2016, including Paul Bernardo and Vincent Li, who beheaded a fellow Greyhound passenger in 2008.

When they go on the road to do live tapings, they like to discuss local murders – but not too local, because that increases the chance that someone in the crowd has actually been personally touched by the crime.

Inevitably, some people find the idea of a comedy podcast about murder to be disrespectful on its face. But this criticism misunderstands their mission, Kilgariff said.

Both hosts emphasized that they never crack jokes at the expense of murder victims.

The male-hosted Last Podcast on the Left, which the ladies are fans of, treats equally gruesome subject matter with equal levity, they added, and isn't criticized as harshly.

The podcast’s fans, a.k.a. murderinos, are overwhelmingly women, and they’ve formed a community on the Internet, bonding over the fact that they’re extremely interested in something  – heinous crimes – their friends and family find weird and off-putting. They hold meetups and get tattoos featuring the show’s catchphrases, like, “F—k politeness,” “Stay sexy, don’t get murdered,” “Stay out of the forest,” and “Toxic masculinity ruins the party again.”

As blogger Chanel Dubofsky wrote in a post about the podcast on the feminist site Ravishly, “Like anyone who has an obsession that others would label deviant, people who like true crime have to seek out their own kind.”

What's the appeal? “For me, and I think for a lot of our listeners, it’s confirming what we knew: The world is a big scary place. We’re not crazy for thinking that,” Hardstark said.  

In 125-plus episodes and minisodes featuring “hometown murders” submitted by listeners, they've picked up a few bits of practical wisdom about how these kinds of murders happen, and how people, especially women, can avoid them.

Don’t do anything that you feel in danger doing because you want to be polite," Hardstark said. “F-ck politeness.”

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