When you think of a comedy festival, the first thing that pops into your mind probably isn’t a true crime podcast, but My Favorite Murder is here to surprise you. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark performed two sold-out shows on the first night of the 6th annual Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, proving that the macabre doesn’t have to be so serious.
By Jackie Ruth
For those unfamiliar with My Favorite Murder, the podcast is centered around Karen and Georgia each sharing a murder story on a weekly basis, while keeping a more lighthearted tone than most true crime podcasts. They both show respect for victims and their families, and they don’t take crime lightly; however, they do find the humor in the smaller details of the stories, and often even make fun of themselves in their tellings of the stories. Fans of My Favorite Murder are called “murderinos,” and the hosts encourage their listeners to share “hometown murders,” both at the live shows and via email for the podcast.
At Wednesday’s 9:30 p.m. show, Karen and Georgia spent the first portion just riffing between each other and at the audience. One of the main topics of discussion was fashion, because Georgia “pandered” to the Texas audience with her cowboy boots, and both women wear black dresses at live shows as part of a tradition. Comedian and friend of the podcast Guy Branum was in attendance, and apparently complemented Georgia’s appearance backstage while telling Karen “I would compliment your dress, but I’ve seen her before.”As is their tradition on the road, both Karen and Georgia chose semi-local murders to cover. Karen spoke of Elmendorf’s Joe Ball, known as “The Alligator Man,” or the “Butcher of Elmendorf.” She explained his family history and criminal past, before speaking of his career as a bar owner where he hired women who had a habit of disappearing. The story was, of course, full of jokes about Joe Ball’s name, as well as the name of his father: Frank X. Ball. There are plenty of other 1930s-era nicknames to laugh at in Karen’s story choice, and there’s a bit of a twist to the case as well – maybe Joe Ball wasn’t the culprit of all of the women’s disappearances.
Then Georgia covered the story of Mary Morris in the Houston area. A beloved middle-aged woman, Mary Henderson Morris was on her way to work one day when she was killed inexplicably. Just four days later, Mary McGinnis Morris, a younger woman in the same area, was also killed. There were no suspects or leads in the first murder case, and an abundance of them on the second case. They are still unsolved, though Georgia and the murderinos have a compelling theory involving a confused hitman. Both hosts had a running gag of having to turn each paper with notes the correct way, as the printer had not collated them properly, and it was so exaggerated that the audience laughed each and every time it happened.
In what turned out to be a surprise not only for the audience, but also for the podcast hosts, the Sklar Brothers showed up to tell a hometown murder story for their hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Their fascinating story featured a skull found outside of a local Mexican restaurant and a husband who seems all too guilty. That case is officially unsolved, but again – and in unison, as is their signature – the Sklar Brothers have a theory. They were followed by a San Antonio native who was picked to come onstage and tell her hometown murder story, which may have hit a little too close to home, even for some murderinos.
While the actual subject of murder is in no way humorous, the performance by My Favorite Murder and their guests kept the audience laughing and clapping consistently all the way through. It can be hard to keep a live podcast show compelling since podcasts are a traditionally oral format, but seeing Karen and Georgia live is arguably an even better experience than listening to them weekly. This podcast is for anyone who loves both true crime and comedy, and they really delivered for the Moontower Comedy Festival crowd.
You can listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast here.
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dog, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia. You can follow Jackie on Twitter and Instagram.