“True Crime” has always been a phenomenon everyone gets glued to. From Robert Stack’s late 1980s and 90s hit series “Unsolved Mysteries,” to the televised trials of OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony, it has been part of the cultural zeitgeist, and now it seems more than ever with podcasts, films, drawn out docuseries and even a planned “Unsolved Mysteries” revival on the horizon.
Objectively, the best format for it to be taken in is the podcast. Movies will fudge things, docuseries will drag on to meet an episode count but podcasts are shorter, more digestible and free. There is a ton of dry, dead serious “True Crime” podcasts populating the internet, but the one that definitely breaks the mold of the genre is “Last Podcast on the Left.”
Whereas others will take on a dry approach to dark subjects, “Last Podcast on the Left” approaches it with a beautiful dose of black comedy. Led by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel and actor and comedian Henry Zebrowski, the typically hour-long multi-part series covers serious subjects, and most recently war criminal nazi Josef Mengele, to more light-hearted conspiracy theory subjects like “Flat Earth,” “Men in Black” and other conspiracy theories.
With the comedy is where the series becomes love it or hate it. “True Crime” is the sort of thing that some people prefer to have with the aforementioned dryness and constant seriousness, so not everyone likes the show. Although, it isn’t all jokes. When covering people like Ted Bundy or the series on Jim Jones, they make it a point to always be dead serious about the horrors they talk about, and always be respectful to individuals like victims covered.
One of the worst aspects about the “True Crime” craze is the mystique of some series and movies that elevate these people to a legendary status. That is where the comedy of the show comes in. They make it a point to bash, make fun of and discredit the perpetrators of their serious subject matter and add other bits of comedy to make the dark subject matter more digestible.
This comedy works because of the core trio. Parks functions as the main storyteller of the information with Kissel functioning as the straight ma or audience and Zebrowski leaning into perfectly timed and somehow always-landing jokes. They all have the capacity to be funny and crack some wonderful jokes, but also to be serious and respectful when it is necessary to be.
Other than the love it or hate it nature of the show, the only other real problem is the drought that happens after you burn their already-existing 350+ episode catalogue they have built up over their four-year run, waiting for a new episode they drop at the end of each week.
I would be lying if I didn’t say this series has a special place in my heart but I am confident that I can unbiasedly say, if it’s your cup of tea, you will love this podcast.