Riley: In Tokyo, you can pay the Family Romance Corporation to imitate your friends, co-workers, and loved ones. Me? I do it for free. Welcome to the show. I'm Riley, your best Ghoulfriend. [Shudders] God, it never gets any easier to say.
Evelyn: And I'm Evelyn, your ghost host with the most!
— The Typical Opening Format
Imagine you live in a world where monsters and ghosts are just an accepted part of life, and also imagine you're a huge fan of Nickelback.
You're now in the shoes of Evelyn Hooper, a woman in her early twenties who got crushed by a falling stage light in 2004 while standing ten feet from Chad Kroeger.
During her sixteen year wait period for getting into the afterlife - most of which, by the way, was spent filling in the most tedious paperwork imaginable - an asocial, eccentric homebody ghoul named Riley Almanzor happened to dig up and chow down on Evelyns body.
As a result of this, they're now stuck together. So, naturally, they're gonna host a podcast about it.
Less Is Morgue is Riley and Evelyn's beautiful and disastrous attempt to record and produce that podcast, often interrupted by everything from Blackbeard's ghost to an irritating tech bro with a God complex. When they're not being tripped up by insane guests, gate-crashers, or Riley's disapproving parents, the weird and wacky personalities of our hosts do just as much to keep them from reaching their goals.
This episodic Horror Comedy audio sitcom began on Valentine's Day of 2020, and has been releasing episodes every other Friday since. Episodes are free to listen to and can be found here, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Season 2 premiered on September 3rd of 2021.
Less is Morgue provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Bubba is this to Riley in episode 25. It's implied that Riley themself is this for Tobias, the as-yet unseen Pizza Pizzaz-o waiter.
- Accidental Murder: Most of Riley's murders are accidental - either done in a blind panic, or because they couldn't control their Horror Hunger.
- Adam Westing: The show's producer, Scott Thomas, plays a heightened version of himself as the outro narrator.
- Affectionate Parody: Episode 3, which is about watching TV, parodies everything from 80s cartoons to Netflix Original Movies to Shounen Anime.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Monsters and ghosts living alongside humans in Tallahassee, Florida.
- Artificial Afterlife: The nightmarish Todd's Heaven, which is still in Beta testing.
- Attractive Zombie: Brains Vincent, a zombie beauty guru with such impressive makeup skills that he practically looks alive. He even invented Zomtouring!
- Balloon Belly: Evelyn teases Riley for looking pregnant after eating too much barbecue in episode 9.
- Big Damn Heroes: Happens a few times on the show, most notably The Skunk Ape saving the gang from Nosferatina in The Irate Outdoors, and Riley storming in to rescue Evelyn in The Post-Postmodern Prometheus.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: Whether it's ghouls eating humans (Riley eating Jon in episode 1), humans eating humans (the Sawyer-esque Barbecue restaurant ad from episode 9) or ghouls eating ghouls (Riley repeatedly threatening to eat their parents), this is a staple of the series.
- Bloody Hilarious: Manages to do this without any visuals, thanks to Scott Thomas' hilariously gross sound design.
- Bludgeoned to Death: The fate of Jordy P's victims at Camp One Counsellor, courtesy of a Ukulele.
- Body Horror: The horrifically fleshy sounds behind Riley's transformations in Episode 9 suggest they'd be pretty gnarly to look at.
- Boy Meets Ghoul: A rare platonic version with Riley and Evelyn. Seeing as Riley is a literal Ghoul and Evelyn is dead, which of the two is more normal is an open question.
- Bullying the Dragon: Bloody Mary attempts to play a prank on Riley's mom. It goes very badly.
- Bury Your Gays: Zig-zagged- the first two openly, explicitly gay characters to be introduced, Evelyn and Brains Vincent, died years before the podcast started, but remain undead.
- Celebrity Endorsement: Zeus shills a brand of condom in the first episode. Satan is selling condos in the second one.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: Evelyn compares limbo to waiting in line at the DMV.
- Character Blog: Riley and Evelyn run the show's twitter and tumblr accounts in-character. Todd and Shaz also have twitter accounts that frequently interact with the main one, as well as with fans.
- Couch Gag: Every episode has the intro music awkwardly inserted in a way that cuts a character off mid-sentence.
- Crossover Relatives: Episode seven of features a cameo by Shaz from Bloody Urban, apparently an Australian cousin of cohost Riley.
- Dancing Pants: The Season 2 episode "An Oldie But a Hoodie" has Riley's hoodie coming to life and refusing to leave after Riley starts to clean their room. They defeat it by shrinking it in the wash.
- Dead Person Conversation: Basically the entire premise of the show.
- Death as Comedy: Both Jon and Evelyn's deaths are played for laughs.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Riley is kind of an expert at this, from cursing a classmate who spread a rumor about them, to having Ryan Loeball torn apart by skeletons for buying a sword they wanted.
- Divine Misfile: Happens in episode 8, when Riley's basement is re-classified as an afterlife.
- Eaten Alive: The fates of Jon, Brains Vincent, and Jordy P., courtesy of Riley. Fate of Fat Cat and the Middle-Aged Tree Men, courtesy of Morby.
- Extreme Omnivore: Ghouls, as a species, will eat anything. Riley has referenced eating car tires, Shaz flavors their booze with bubble soap, and Teddy cooks up 'mice krispie treats' in Episode 6.
- Fantastic Racism: Ghouls and vampires don't get along in this series' universe. Although, as Riley points out, it's not exactly equivalent to racism.Klyle: Thats a little racist, bro.
Riley: No it isn't! You chose to be a vampire, it's like hating someone for having a Triple X tattoo. Totally reasonable!
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Everything from cyclops to sentient home AI to eldritch abominations exists in the Less is Morgue universe.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Episode 25 has Scott Thomas, the producer, directly threatening to kill you, the listener, if you ride the Death Coaster.
- Format-Specific Joke: Several, but the ad breaks and the awkwardly-timed intro music are two of the most common and notable.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": According to Evelyn, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback performed at her funeral.
- Gag Boobs: Evelyn's got, in Riley's words, "some bazongas". The trope is then taken Up to Eleven in episode 19 where the main plot surrounds a sea captain and his cabin boy hunting down a giant flying boob creature known as the Moby Tit.
- Garden of Evil: One of the ads is for a subscription feature that delivers killer plants to your door.
- Ghostly Goals: Both Evelyn and Jon are haunting Riley for eating (and in Jon's case murdering) them. And Evelyn was on the verge of getting out of Limbo when Riley dug up her corpse.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The hosts play dungeons and dragons with Camille and Todd, who were antagonists in their previous appearances.
- Headless Horseman: It turns out that Riley summoned a dullahan to curse their middle school nemesis, and he's been hounding her ever since. When Evelyn convinces Riley to try and call him off they mess up the summoning and get an incubus, who turns out to know the horseman in question, quite intimately.
- Heroic BSoD: Evelyn goes through one in The Tell-tale Heartache after breaking up with Olivia.
- Historical Domain Character: Blackbeard, Tarrare, Edgar Allen Poe, HH Holmes, Emperor Nero, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Benjamin Pitazel and Betsy Ross. Those last 5 appear all in the same episode.
- Horrifying the Horror:
- Todd is disgusted by Riley's drinking straight mayo in episode 5.
- Riley is horrified by Tiffany drinking out of her bong in episode 10.
- In that same episode, Florida Man is disgusted at being presented with tuna instead of meth, worried that the mercury would kill him.
- Hurricane of Puns: The Zeus and Satan ads in episodes one and two are basically all pun.
- Imperfect Ritual: Riley and Evelyn attempt to summon a Dullahan substituting chalk, a stick from a dead oak, and Irish butter with duct tape, a vibrator, and a jar of mayonnaise. They get an incubus instead.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Riley describes zombie brains as tasting like ass.
- The Masquerade: Played With. Humans and monsters seem to be aware of each other, but the existence of ghosts hasn't been proven.
- Land Down Under: A third of the team behind the show are Australian, so naturally Australian jokes appear. Most notable is Jarrod McKnight, the Crocodile Dundee-esque electrician who sports a blond mullet, carries a hunting knife, and constantly spouts phrases like "Cheers, big ears" and "I'm not here to fuck spiders."Meg: We try to inject as much Australian sensibility into the show as we can. (because honestly what is Australia if not the world's Florida)
- Azfar and Satan are both introduced with smooth jazz.
- Todd has a jaunty piece of synth music that accompanies his appearance.
- Blackbeard's arrival is heralded by Drunken Sailor being played on the accordion.
- Florida Man manifests to creepy swamp music.
- Medium Awareness: Unlike some other podcasts that take the form of radio shows or audio logs, Less is Morgue is a podcast in-universe, which allows for constant self aware jokes about the medium.
- Monster Roommate: Riley is this for Evelyn, and a good portion of the show's comedy comes from the differences between the species of the two hosts.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Tender-Hearted in Tallahassee, Riley arranges a reunion between Evelyn and her old girlfriend Olivia, which ends in disaster. In Underworld Vacation, Evelyn ends up breaking Hell.
- Odd Couple: Our best ghoulfriend and ghost host with the most fit this trope to a tee.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Less is Morgue's ghouls are a mix of Lovecraftian and Mythological. They're born, not made, and they're humanoid, but with greyish skin, pointed ears, catlike eyes and claws, and they can shapeshift. Riley lays out most of the specifics in the 'Facts about Ghouls' trailer.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Invisible to everyone except for fellow undead, demons, and mortals who are either on hallucinogens, being haunted, or are mentally unstable. They can be seen on camera sometimes, and can be recorded on digital audio, though that recorded audio then cannot be edited. Evelyn lays out most of the specifics in the 'Facts about Ghosts' trailer.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Less is Morgue's vampires are strong, can hypnotise people, and are hurt, but not killed, by sunlight.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Brains Vincent was zombified by a bite from a Sumatran rat monkey, and although he does have rotting purple skin and eat human flesh, he has fully retained his mental faculties in death, and is almost indistinguishable from a normal human due to skilled application of makeup.
- Only in Florida: The show is set in Tallahassee, Florida and constantly takes shots at the state, to the point that Florida Man has appeared is a character.Florida Man: Im wherever there is true Floridian spirit to be found. Every time someone tosses an alligator through the drive thru window at McDonalds as a prank, Ill be there. Every time a drunk spring breaker falls off a hotel balcony, Ill be there. Every time someones baby shoots them by accident, Ill be there. Because Florida isnt a place its a state of being.
- Only One Afterlife: Averted. Death himself complains that there are way too many, and it makes his job a nightmare.
- Parody Commercial: The ad breaks. Specifically parodying the intrusive nature of ads on some podcasts.
- The Secret of Long Pork Pies: The Last Chance Texas-Style BBQ, run by Tarrare's present-day descendants, serves human brisket and chili.Barbecue Dad: Whats our secret recipe? What are you, a cop? Dont ask me that. Shut up.
- Professional Killer: The ad for Episode 20 features Glenn Rhodes, an incompetent hitman.
- Punny Title: 'Medium; Tarrare'
- Running Gag: Plenty.
- Shock and Awe: Jarrod McKnight, the electrician, who climbed a mountain to learn electricity-wrangling from Zeus himself.
- Multiple to BeetleJuice and Nickelback.
- Silverstream, the streaming service that Riley subscribes to, is a reference to an episode that Henry Galley previously wrote for The Hidden Frequencies.
- Episode 4 has Riley play the Congeria theme music when asked to play the most embarrassing song on their playlist. Riley and Bloody Mary's mentions of a certain dapper, faceless eldritch abomination are also bleeped for copyright purposes using the static sounds from the game Slender.
- Blackbeard in episode 6 finishes his series of financial tips by telling Riley and Evelyn "You best start believing in economies, kids...you're in one!" His leitmotif is also the same version of "Drunken Sailor" heard in SpongeBob SquarePants.
- The ad for Sleepy Mountains resort town.
- Scott caps off his outro in episode 8 by saying 'Ia Ia Wendigoes' and playing the Alexandria Archives theme.
- The Last Chance Texas-Style BBQ references the name of the truck stop in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. (The promo code in the ad is even 'We Slaughter'!)
- The family that owns the restaurant shows up again as main antagonists in episode 25. The two sons of the restaurant's owner are very clear parodies of Leatherface and the Hitchhiker.
- Also in episode 9, Tarrare directly calls out Justin McElroy for saying "this dude ate a baby" on an episode of Sawbones about Tarrare.
- Episode 13 features an ad for The Overwrite Hotel Writer's Retreat. The ad makes sure to mention that the hotel has a continental breakfast included with the room.
- The Season 2 premiere has Riley mentioning a lost violent anime called "The End.avi", which could be a reference to Saki Sanobashi.
- Silly Spook: None of the ghosts in the show are really scary. At worst, they're just kind of jerks.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Despite the monstrous lead characters and the dark, cynical tone, this show is firmly on the Comedy side of the scale.
- Space Whale: One appears in Riley's high fantasy novel, in a baffling scene that is apparently meant to be Played for Drama.Shaz:Theres a bit where you ride a whale to the moon! How is that...How did you not mean for that to be funny?
Riley:It was SUPPOSED... to be an EPIC and UPLIFTING reflection on the limitations of gravity!
- Something Only They Would Say: Evelyn, when she possesses Riley, is able to prove her presence to Olivia this way.
- Take That!:
- Morby is defeated and stopped from advancing its semiotic decay of all media by being trapped inside the Paramount Network reboot of Heathers, thus ensuring that not a single person will ever watch it and set it free.
- Tastes Like Chicken: According to Riley in Episode 3, Evelyn tasted like chicken. Buffalo wings, specifically.
- Time Travel: The possibility of this is introduced in Episode 24, when a gang of unsavory characters from world history show up in the basement on their Bill and Ted-esque romp through time and space.Emperor Nero:Well, it does remind me why we do this. To see boobs, mostly.
Iron Felix Dzerzhinsky: Da. Big Boobs.
- Toilet Horror: Jon is forced to haunt the bathroom. Brains is eaten there, and it's also where Bloody Mary is summoned and where the Children of the All Knowing Milton are briefly banished.
- Toilet Humor: The show is not afraid to be immature. There's an extended joke in episode 14 about Ryan Loeball using an expensive replica sword to break up his "heavy duty shits", which leads into a bit about poop scissors.Riley: Ask Jon. He knows.
- Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Czernovitch has pet pigeons which fit his blue-collar New Yorker persona. Ed has a koi carp, which mirrors his zen, hippie vibes.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Riley regularly complains that nobody will want to listen to the show.
- You Are Who You Eat: Ghouls can shapeshift into any person or animal they've eaten recently. Riley first uses this power in episode 9 to help Tarrare work through his daddy issues.
Evelyn: I think it went pretty well, all things considered.
Riley: What I'd give to live in your world, Evelyn, it always sounds so much nicer than mine.