Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s salt-breeze tone is a jarring contrast to the grisly topics of My Favorite Murder, the true-crime podcast whose episodes routinely top iTunes’s comedy chart. (Seriously.) Sparking goosebumps and awkward laughter alike, the duo’s banter has inspired a growing fanbase of “murderinos,” along with an eight-bit video game and a craft beer from an Indiana brewer, Stay Out of the Forest.
Now on the road behind their forthcoming book, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, Kilgariff and Hardstark are devoting many tour stops to murders with strong local and regional interest. While what they’ll discuss here in Houston is anyone’s guess, two past Texas-set podcast episodes, and one from across the pond, ought to whet your bloody appetite:
The Moontower Murders (Ep. 70)
Live from Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival, Hardstark revisits the December 1991 “Yogurt Shop Murders,” cracking a few “frozen yogurt was so ’90s” jokes before hashing out the horrific killing of four teenage girls in a north Austin yogurt shop. A full five years later, police-misconduct charges tainted the initial arrests; later those convictions were overturned after new DNA evidence came to light. Hardstark, an erstwhile fro-yo slinger, suddenly finds herself out of jokes. “I hope yours is funny,” she tells Kilgariff, who then rewinds more than a century to detail the “Servant Girl Annihilator” spree. These brutal axe killings from 1884–85 happened under a full moon, so, of course, the terrified town was halfway convinced a werewolf was on the prowl.
Dean Corll (Ep. 89)
“A 33-year-old guy who wants to party with teenagers? Red flag,” says Hardstark. The ladies note the unnerving similarities between Matthew McConaughey’s Dazed and Confused character, Wooderson, and the Heights’s notorious “Candy Man,” the early-’70s serial killer believed to be responsible for the pedophiliac torture and murder of nearly 30 Houston-area boys. Hardstark says researching the case gave her nightmares for three weeks, while Kilgariff spies a dark lesson: “Almost nothing good comes out of the Handcuff Game.”
Jill Dando (Ep. 137)
Hardstark highlights the April 1999 murder of a glamorous BBC reporter, “a cross between Diane Sawyer and Lady Diana.” Dando, 37, was shot execution-style in the doorway of her London townhouse not long after getting engaged to a gynecologist she met on a blind date. The prime suspect, a mentally challenged man who claimed to be late Queen singer Freddie Mercury’s cousin, was convicted but later let go when a second trial turned up tainted evidence. The unresolved case has inspired a number of fanciful theories; Hardstark’s favorite involves Serbian retaliation for NATO’s bombing of a Belgrade TV studio. “This woman seems so ideal in every way,” notes Kilgariff, but “she still has to get set up on blind dates."
My Favorite Murder Live. May 3. 8 p.m. From $44. Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-207-6278.