All Killa No Filla & 5 great crime podcasts

The latest edition of our podcast column looks at the world of true crime podcasts, and focuses on Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Rachel Fairburn's All Killa No Filla

Feature by Brian Cloughley | 31 Jul 2018

Blethering is never far from the heart of a good podcast. With All Killa No Filla, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Rachel Fairburn prove themselves to be primo, world-class bletherers. The title of their podcast must be ironic because really, it’s all about the filla. It’s about serial killers too, obviously, but it’s much funnier and more engaging when they digress from that stuff and just blether.

And what blether! Memorable penises, motorway service stations, dry bumming – they cover all the big issues. They’re consistently hilarious, likable and, especially in Rachel Fairburn’s case, extraordinarily free from vanity. The temptation is to say that it’s refreshing to hear two women talking in such an open, casual way but gender’s got nothing to do with it – it’s unusual to hear anyone talking like this outside of a place with a license to sell alcohol or house the clinically insane.

It’s got another extremely rare quality, in that the live shows are better than the studio recordings. Often when podcasts hit the road, something is lost. There’s pauses where there shouldn’t be, the podcasters talk to the audience rather than to each other, the jokes become broader and more obvious, and the whole thing loses the intimacy that makes podcasting such a great medium. Not so here. Maybe it’s because they’re both stand-ups and comfortable in front of a audience, but the atmosphere seems even more relaxed than usual. Check out the David Berkowitz episode. You feel drawn-in to the atmosphere rather than excluded.

Maybe this episode stands out because the Berkowitz story is an especially compelling one. The question of whether he was faking his insanity gives a good angle to discuss his crimes and put them in an interesting context. The whole 'is this guy crazy or just nuts?' sort of thing. Unfortunately this isn’t the case with every episode. To be honest, most episodes are let down by the serial killer stuff. They don’t do much other than offer a factual description of the killers’ lives and crimes. There’s no angle here, no conflict, no debate. If there was more discussion about society, or psychology, or gender relations, perhaps it wouldn’t seem so flat. It’s quite interesting to hear them talk about similarities in the killers’ childhoods – sexual abuse, head injuries, separation from their parents – but these recurring motifs illustrate the repetitiveness of these tales.

You can understand people saying that it’s in bad taste, mixing-up murder and dry-bumming like this. That it’s disrespectful to the victims, trivialises violence, valourises scumbags, all that sort of stuff. But actually – and you might want to file this under hot takes – the issue with All Killa is that it’s too respectful. The things that make the good bits brilliant – the looseness, the irreverence, the unpredictably – are absent from the serial killer talk. It leads you to think that these two have an amazing podcast in them, but that perhaps this isn’t it.

5 More Non-Heinous Podcasts about Heinous Crimes

1) My Favorite Murder – Very much an American take on the All Killa format, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff aren’t as funny as their British equivalents but this is partly compensated by their rampant tastelessness. You pays your money, you takes your choice we suppose.

2) 74 Seconds – Minnesota Public Radio put together this podcast about the police shooting of Philando Castile while the officer in question was being tried for manslaughter. The timing gives it an urgency and intensity befitting the subject matter.

3) A Very Fatal Murder – It’s not quite at the level of the very best things The Onion have done, but their take on true crime podcasts is wryly funny and typically perceptive.

4) In the Dark – Superior US true crime series that’s all about the institutional failures associated with murder rather than the grisly details of the crimes themselves.

5) Untold – More ambitious than your typical true crime podcast, Untold is more concerned with taking on the British establishment. Their upcoming series promises to shed some light on Cambridge Analytica.

All Killa No Filla, Underbelly, George Square (Udderbelly), 5 & 19 Aug, 11.30pm; 12 & 26 Aug, 3.30pm, £13-14