Image courtesy of myfavoritemurder.com
By Regina Vahey
There are two types of people in the world: those whose ears perk up at the mention of a true crime story and those who plug their ears when the topic is introduced. For the former, the true-crime niche in the podcast community is vast and features shows such as the true-crime comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder, hosted by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff.
The show is mainly comprised of traditional episodes where the pair chooses a murder of interest and recounts the story from beginning to end, with casual banter and social commentary sprinkled throughout the gruesome details. The show also features shorter “Minisodes” where listeners send in their hometown true crime stories, and Hardstark and Kilgariff share them with the rest of the audience. The show is classified as a comedy podcast on most platforms due to its witty and sarcastic nature.
The show’s inception came about when Hardstark and Kilgariff were at a Halloween party sharing true crime stories and discovered their mutual fascination with murder, a topic that usually unnerves the normal passer-by. From that moment on, their new-found friendship flourished and they decided to start My Favorite Murder, completely unprepared for the life-changing effects of this impulsive idea. The pair has described the podcast as a sort of therapy to unpack their own anxieties about murder. Formerly, Hardstark was a co-host of Drinks with Alie and Georgia and Unique Sweets, both of which aired on the Cooking Channel. Kilgariff was a stand-up comedian in the 1990s in California and went on to become the head writer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The first episode of My Favorite Murder was posted in January of 2016. In the following years, the show has reached record-breaking success peaking at #3 on the iTunes podcast chart and consistently maintaining a similar position in the true crime category on iTunes. Hardstark and Kilgariff have gained a following of almost 20 million monthly listeners who have coined the endearing name, “Murderinos.” My Favorite Murder has also been featured at several podcast festivals and has traveled around the world performing sold-out live shows for their loyal Murderino audience.
The podcast dives into the stories of the most well-known serial killer cases, such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Richard Ramirez. Hardstark and Kilgariff also dissect popular true crime cases such as the murder of Jon Benet Ramsay and the mystery of Elisa Lam and the Hotel Cecil. Out of the hundreds of stories that are told on the show, one that stuck with me is the horrific tale of Richard Chase, “The Vampire of Sacramento.” In Chase’s early adulthood, he developed the suspicion that his heart was stopping and his cranial bones were moving. As a result of these fears, he began killing and consuming animals’ blood because he believed this would prevent his heart from shrinking.
When Chase was 23-years-old, he was involuntarily committed to a mental institution where his behavior terrified the medical professionals who worked there. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was prescribed psychotropic medication, and was eventually released as he was no longer deemed a danger to society. After his release, Chase’s mother weaned him off the medication and let him live on his own. One year following Chase’s release from the psychiatric ward, he began entering people’s homes whose doors were left unlocked and murdering whoever was inside the house. Chase was finally caught and arrested. When police searched his apartment, it looked like something out of a horror film with blood on the floors, walls, and ceilings and all over the kitchen utensils.
On May 8, 1980, Chase was found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to die. In prison, Chase revealed to Robert Ressler, an FBI psychological profiler, that Nazis and UFOs forced him to commit the crimes. Chase also handed Ressler a pocketful of macaroni and cheese he had been holding to be tested out of fear that the Nazis were trying to poison him. On December 26, 1980, Chase was found dead in his cell after committing suicide with an overdose of prescribed antidepressants he saved over the course of several weeks.
All of the stories told on My Favorite Murder are deeply macabre and can put the listener into a melancholy state of mind. To combat ending the episodes on a grim note, Hardstark and Kilgariff began sharing one thing that made them happy that week. The final sign off of every episode is Kilgariff saying, “Stay sexy,” and Hardstark adding, “And don’t get murdered!” Hardstark then asks her Siamese cat, Elvis, if he wants a cookie, to which he loudly meows into the microphone everytime. So, in true My Favorite Murder fashion, stay sexy and don’t get murdered, Murderinos!