People love murder. Like, really love it.
Whether it’s murder movies, murder on TV, or just plain old regular murder on the news, murder is big right now. But only a few can make murder funny.
With their Small Town Murder podcast James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman have figured out the right combination of comedy, bloodshed, and scariness, which has made them stand out in a sea of true crime entertainment.
“I think murder has always been hot; it’s just more available now,” says Pietragallo. “Whether it was shows like Law & Order, which has been on for like 30 years, all the way back to the old days of sensationalized yellow journalism, people have always been drawn to murder as entertainment.”
This week, the duo will bring the small town to the big city as the Shut Up and Give Me Murder Tour stops Saturday at the Varsity Theater. Following up on the heels of a successful outing last spring, the guys say that this tour will bring new murders, more visual elements, and plenty of audience interaction.
“We put way more time into these shows than we do for our podcasts because we need visuals and stuff that make for a good live show experience,” Pietragallo says. “We have about four different cases that we’ll rotate through on this tour, and each one will have real estate reports on the houses that are hilarious, police scene photos, and mugshots of the suspects that are insane.”
That’s not to say that it’s all for laughs, however.
“We’re serious when we need to be,” Pietragallo continues. “When we’re talking about the details of the murder or what happened, we aren’t making light of that. We know when it’s time to take it seriously and when we can laugh at it.”
While the cases covered at the live shows aren’t necessarily local, the guys explain that crowd participation can often turn into a pitch meeting for future episodes.
“Every meet and greet we do, we get people who suggest murders or talk about cases from their own hometowns,” Pietragallo says. “Sometimes we get people who want us to help them solve an open murder case. That’s a little scary.”
“Sometimes people will bring us photos and real-life stuff that’s going on with them,” Whisman adds. “We’re like, ‘Go to the police!’ We’d be perfect for Ice-T’s role on Law & Order, because we have no clue what’s going on.”
As for whether or not immersing themselves in bloody crime scenes has desensitized them, Pietragallo reluctantly admits he’s become a little jaded.
“I do all the research to find new cases for us to talk about, and sometimes I find myself thinking, ‘I mean, the head didn’t get sawed completely off, so maybe it’s not that great.’”
Whisman, on the other hand, tries to remain blissfully unaware of the real-life implications of the stories they share.
“I just tell myself that the stories James tells me are all made up. Just fun little figments of his imagination,” he laughs.
While both guys have comedy careers that span beyond the podcast, neither Pietragallo nor Whisman has any concerns with being categorized as “murder comedians.”
“We’d rather be the murder guys than the unemployed open mic guys,” Pietragallo laughs. “We’ll be the murder guys any day.”
IF YOU GO:
Small Town Murder: Shut Up and Give Me Murder
6:30 p.m. Sat.