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Podcast / The Last Podcast on the Left

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That's when the cannibalism started...

"Every week Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks explore the horrors of the world both imagined and real."
Series Description

The Last Podcast On The Left is a horror and true-crime based comedy podcast and is part of the The Last Podcast Network. The show was originally created by Ben Kissel and Marcus Parks in 2011. Shortly after its creation, Henry Zebrowski joined Marcus and Ben as the third host of the show.

Recurring topics on the show include: serial killers, cults, aliens, cryptids, and hauntings.

The Last Podcast On The Left provides examples of:

  • Admiring the Abomination: Invoked and discussed in the "Carl Panzram" three-parter, wherein Marcus says that true-crime authors love Panzram (a serial rapist and mass murderer from the early 1900s) due to his Affably Evil tendencies and well-written confessions. By the end of the series, Henry decides that Panzram is his favorite Heavy Hitter.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Henry created a character named Detective Popcorn. Detective Popcorn is an ultra-cute, anthropomorphic bag of popcorn. He tends to be much more focused on how delicious he is than on actually solving crimes.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Henry is not at all hesitant to whip out this kind of accent when impersonating an Asian, given that he voices killers and cult leaders they're actively mocking. It's considered an achievement that he held out for fourteen minutes in the Aum Shinrikyo series and he just goes to town with it when impersonating Charles Ng. In that case, the hosts all stress that Ng actually spoke like that.
  • Bad Liar: There is some debate during the first Casey Anthony episode about whether Casey qualified as a great liar or a terrible one. On the one hand, she told and, for the most part, got away with some real whoppers, such as leading police through an office building she only claimed to work at for a long time. However, nearly all of those lies were easily disproven with only minimal effort because she insisted on Snowball Lies, such as finally having to admit she didn't work at the office at all when she navigated police into a dead end.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Henry's head only reaches Ben's shoulders when they stand side-by-side.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In the Jerry Brudos episode, they make a joke about Brudos' Prison Rape after his capture and immediately justify it by by pointing out that "It's OK since Brudos was a terrible person".
  • Book Dumb: While it's not uncommon for serial killers to be school dropouts, Pee-Wee Gaskins earns special mention here as his book, Final Truth, is described by Marcus as having surprising insight into the psychosis of serial killers despite Gaskins dropping out at age eleven, being more classifiable as a "mass murderer" than "serial killer", and such studies not yet being part of the common public consciousness.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Holden McNeely (of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) is often the butt of jokes among the boys.
    • In many early episodes, Ed Larson (also of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) is the butt of many jokes.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: During "The Hillside Stranglers" episode the guys are discussing bed wetting when Henry tells a story of his friend pissing the sheets till he was 12.
    Marcus: Did he tell you that in confidence?
    Henry (panicked): ...What?
  • Christmas Special: Episode 205 "The Detective Popcorn Christmas Special".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: While narrating a Pac-Man themed CreepyPasta in Episode 181, Marcus drops 29 F-bombs in under 2 minutes.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Henry, Ben, and Marcus frequently make jokes about serial killers or their victims.
    • Henry tries not imitating a Japanese man in the "Aum Shinrikyo" episode but only lasts 14 minutes.
      Henry (in Asian voice): Ooh moossst hunorable Kissel
  • Crossover:
    • Episode 50, a special Halloween episode, features story narration from various members of Cave Comedy Radio.
    • Henry's sister Jackie (of Cave Comedy Radio's Page 7, Sex & Other Human Activities, and Roundtable of Gentlemen) appears in Episode 266 and Episode 267 as the voice of Aileen Wournos.
    • In the live shows, Holden McNeely (of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) occasionally subs in for Henry.
    • The episode "A Conversation With My Favorite Murder" is a crossover with, well, My Favorite Murder.
    • Detective Popcorn appears in the Roundtable of Gentlemen episode "Episode 199: The Roast of Marcus Parks".
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: A common theme amongst serial killers, especially sociopaths, is that they cannot prevent themselves from getting bored and escalating their crimes in a stupid fashion. A prime example of this is H. H. Holmes, who was gearing up to build a second "murder castle" in Texas which would have potentially allowed him to continue his crimes for decades undetected only to end up being run out of town after Holmes decided to make an unprecedented and inexplicable attempt at horse theft.
  • Disposable Vagrant:
    • The hosts refer to this idea as the "Least Dead". They note how multiple serial killers, such as Gary Ridgway and Robert Pickton, were able to get away with their crimes because their main targets were prostitutes, whose deaths garnered little official attention, or black prostitutes, who got basically none.
    • In the case of Robert Hansen, who took sex workers out into the wilderness to kill them, there were multiple occasions he was suspected or even caught dead to rights when survivors of his attempted kidnappings reported him. In the case of one of one survivor, who was able to accurately describe the inside of his home right down to the presence of a Foosball table, a record-keeping issue caused his wrap sheet to come out clean, not showing any prior arrests, and that immediately made Hansen's word more valuable than the sex worker's.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The hosts will mock serial killers, cult leaders, and their methods and acts, but they become much more serious when they discuss the victims. In the "Children of God" series, jokes about David Berg being an incestuous Dirty Old Man pedophile fly freely, but hardly a joke is made while discussing Ricky Rodriguez, a young man raised in the cult's sexually abusive environment.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few episodes didn't have Henry and, by Marcus' own admission, the show didn't really find its footing until around Episodes 59 and 61, which were about the B.T.K. Killer, after which point they began to go heavier into their research. Not coincidentally, these episodes also featured the first appearance of Detective Popcorn.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Pee-Wee Gaskins, part three features one of the rare occasions the hosts shy away from describing the process of a murder. The farthest Marcus will go will be to say to imagine the "worst scene" in A Serbian Film taking place in the back of a hearse and realizing it might have taken place in real life.
  • Everything Is Better With Monkeys: A recurring theme in, of all things, the Jonestown series. The crew is highly amused by the fact that one of Jim Jones' early means to make ends meet was selling spider monkeys door to door and they cannot stop laughing when they play a clip of the daughter-in-law of a Peoples Temple follower explaining how her mother-in-law first met Jones when he sold her a monkey to replace her previous one which had hung itself. Later on, Marcus relates how Peoples Temple eventually got a chimpanzee named Mr. Muggs as their mascot, whom Henry imagines as an Only Sane Man communicating his displeasure at the madness around him via a Congo style voice synthesizer.
  • Expy: While Ben compares Henry's impression of Jerry Brudos to his impression of Charles Ng, Henry later acknowledges that he's consciously doing it as essentially Eric Cartman.
  • Freudian Trio: Henry, the Id. Marcus, the Ego. Ben, the Super Ego.
  • Gag Penis: Rasputin's member is so large and so prominent in his story that one of the last Rasputin myths Marcus has to dispel is that Rasputin's cock, currently on display in a big, big jar of fromaldihyde in St. Petersburg, is more likely a well-disguised horse cock. This prompts Henry to want to meet the painter who did the disguising. When referring to the animated Anastasia, they describe Rasputin's lantern as a giant green dildo.
  • Gentle Giant: Despite being very tall, Ben Kissel used to be a dog nanny.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Marcus and Henry are not shy about discussing how the research they do for the show wears on their sanity.
  • Grotesque Cute: Detective Popcorn is a homicide detective and anthropomorphic bag of popcorn.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": In part III of Robert Pickton, the hosts have a rough time getting started talking about a major witness in Pickton's trial because they can't stop laughing at his name, Bill Hiscox.
    Henry: Thirty-three years old I am...
  • Height Angst: Ben admits that he is annoyed when people ask him questions like "What's the weather like up there?"
  • Hollywood Satanism: Very much averted for most of the show, as there have been many informative, factual episodes about real-life Satanism in its various forms. However, this trope was discussed at-length during the episodes about Satanic Ritual Abuse, and how it was exploited in order to convince Americans in the 80's and 90's that evil wicked Satanists were out to steal their children.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Essentially Robert Hansen's M.O. He would kidnap women, set them loose in the wilderness, and hunt them down. Despite the similarity to the trope naming story, the hosts think it unlikely Hansen ever actually read it, as the man was a Gary Ridgway level dullard.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the Aum Shinrikyo episode, everyone is disgusted at the fact that Shoko Asahara sold his bath water to followers... and Marcus then takes the opportunity to remind listeners that you can get a bone fragment from his ranch for the low low price of a $25+ monthly Patreon donation.
  • Let's Duet:
    • When Marcus begins to read something with a dramatic or intense flair, Henry will sometimes join in to create a strange sort of spoken-word harmony to the end of each sentence. One particularly long version of this happens in Episode 233 as Marcus and Henry read the introduction to the website The pair of them read the website's manifesto, both saying each "quote/unquote" word or phrase in unison. After they finish, Ben finally speaks:
      Ben:(deadpan) ...I think you guys are really good at that.
    • Also leads to some issues on the first "L. Ron Hubbard" episode, when the three have to take several stabs at reciting the incantation from Jack Parsons' Moonchild ritual in unison.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Marcus reveals a little reported fact of the Casey Anthony case is that the name of the babysitter Casey provided, Zenaida Gonzalez, or "Zanny the Nanny", was one of these, taken from the names of two of the Anthony family's neighbors. One with the first name of Zenaida, another with the last name of Gonzalez. Henry specifically references The Usual Suspects by stating she Keyser Söze'd the name.
  • Mood Whiplash: Pretty frequent given the nature of a true crime/horror comedy podcast.
    • In the Aum Shinrikyo episode, for example, they give an extremely comical discussion of the utterly goofy "comedy of errors" that was setting up the Matsumoto incident, such as their being delayed because the main planner overslept, the combined weight of their equipment and cultists caused their van to only reach a top speed of 30 mph, they screwed up the chemical reaction to produce the sarin gas which filled their van with highly irritant hydrogen chloride and the wind direction changed at the last second away from their target, and then reveal that the attack still led to 6 deaths, over 100 injuries and Aum succeeded in their goal of getting a lawsuit against them dropped.
    • In the introduction to Robert Hansen, Marcus narrates a rundown of Hansen's deeds while sounding like a serious true crime show narrator... then asks the listeners to imagine the man he just described sounding like Elmer Fudd in reference to his legitimate speech impediment.
    • Marcus describes the lead-up to Rasputin's assassination in precise and dramatic detail, going so far as to include a sample of the music that was playing at the time... which turns out to be Yankee Doodle Dandy.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • While re-enacting the antics of a psychic brought in to help in the Boston Strangler case, the hosts insist that, minus some comedic embellishing, they are quoting directly from court and police records.
    • During the first Jonestown episode, Marcus tosses out one of these when mentioning that Jim Jones at some point made ends meet by selling spider monkeys door to door.
    • While discussing Dennis Nilsen, Marcus understandably gives one while mentioning that Nilsen at one point burned the carpet wrapped bodies of his victims in a bonfire in his backyard, in broad daylight while playing freaking Tubular Bells (i.e. The Exorcist Theme) on a loop on his speakers for everyone to hear. And getting away with it.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Many episodes discuss Bigfoot and other cryptids.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Henry created a character named Terry the Gnome. Despite being small, Terry is incredibly feisty. Terry is easily identified by his atypically deep voice and foul language.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The hosts often note times when police ineffectiveness is a major factor in how long a serial killer goes without getting caught. For example, in the Dean Corll series, they note the Houston police were underfunded and understaffed so much that, as a result, they actively avoided investigating things like homicides and shut down a victim's family when they provided a letter written by their missing son that they suspect was faked, but which Missing Persons took as evidence he was no longer missing.
    • They also note occasions when a killer was caught by dumb luck or mistakes rather than anything police did. Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, for instance, were only found out when Lake was held for questioning for an act of compulsive shoplifting by Ng, and police never suspected anything serious until Lake killed himself while in custody.
    • Another issue the hosts bring up frequently is the fact that police precincts never speak to one another regarding local crimes, which causes killers to go on longer than if they just pooled information. This is understandable in the case of drifter killers whose crimes take place entire states apart or in times when long distance communication was not the norm. It's less so in the case of the Boston Strangler, in the 1960s, when police and district attorneys within the same city kept information to themselves in the hopes of being the ones who will crack the case.
    • Detective Popcorn is the hosts' go-to character expressing their feelings regarding this trope. They wonder what Popcorn and the Hot Dog Squad would do in a given scenario when the police are proving less than useful.
    • Marcus gets especially worked up in the second Robert Pickton episode because of this trope. In the case of Pickton, not only did the Vancouver Police Department not investigate the disappearance of Pickton's sex worker victims and even ignore evidence of possibly up to four serial killers in the particular slum Pickton hunted in, they were plagued by petty infighting as they actively bullied and undermined the one cop who was trying to do something because his efforts and other successes made them look bad.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Played for laughs with Marcus in the beginning of Episode 233 as the guys are warming up for the recording.
    Henry: (in a high-pitched rasp) This is a child's voice... you're supposed to talk in a child's voice to warm up your voice because it's vulnerable...
    Marcus: Please... PLEASE do not start the show with something that annoying.
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) Child's voice makes you feel vulnerable...
    Ben: Welcome to the show, everyone! This is the Last Podcast on the Left, I'm Ben Kissel, that's Marcus Parks—
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) I'm from the Sphere alliance! I hope you're ready for my... blue arms... because they'll make you feel true freedom..!
    Ben: If this is the first time you're listening to the show, he's never done that accent before.
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) My name is Henry Zebrows—
    Marcus: STOP IT!!!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At the end of the Jim Jones series, Marcus delivers a blistering one aimed at Jones himself, albeit posthumously:
    "So in the end, Jim Jones only got half of what he wanted. He wanted to die, and he wanted to take people with him and he got that, but he didn't get the legacy. He wanted a grand revolutionary gesture that would inspire others; that would make people see him as a great man. What he got was a joke and a bad one at that. He got pundits and politicians and writers smirking as they casually shrink this tragedy down to one stupid, thoughtless phrase which has become Jim Jones' biggest contribution to the world: 'Don't drink the Kool-Aid'."
  • Running Gag
    • Whenever discussing murders that involved axes, Marcus plays a Rock & Roll guitar solo.
      • Henry also mimics a heavy metal guitar lick whenever anything "metal" comes up.
      • The exact piece of music that Henry is mimicking is part of the guitar solo close to the eight minute mark of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird"
    • Detective Popcorn is a running gag. The character has been used to parody bumbling or inept police officers since Episode 61.
    • Ben reading poorly.
    • Marcus and Henry will often scream the phrase "THERE'S BONES IN THE CHOCOLATE!" This is a reference to Episode 35.
    • Henry and Marcus making fun of Ben's grandfather, who was possibly a Nazi.
    • On several occasions Henry has been put in "free speech jail."
    • Any mention of Coast To Coast AM will segue into an impression of host George Noory's terrible interviewing style.
    • "I'm having one!"
    • Henry's numerous recurring characters and impressions tend to have their own catchphrases:
      • Ted Kacynski: "I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!"
      • The BTK Killer: "I have a sexual problem."
      • Kyle Odom: "I'm 100% sane, 0% crazy."
      • Elliot Rodgers: "...magnificent."
      • H.H. Holmes: "Don't think about it!"
      • Spring Heeled Jack: "Slippity slap and away I go!"
      • David Berg: "What am I doing right now?" "'re holding your cock."
      • Pee Wee Gaskins: "And that's the final truth!"
    • Ben:
      • Ben will occasionally drop a loud and monotone f-bomb. This is a reference to a story that he read in Episode 130.
      • "Nerd alert!"
      • When Marcus or Henry tell a really disgusting story or detail Ben frequently follows up with, "Well isn't that something?"
      • In the same vein, "Sounds kinda fun!" or some variant, often in response to a particularly colorful or campy detail of an otherwise gruesome story. "Kinda Fun" was actually made into a t-shirt.
      • Henry appeared in a short lived sticom entitled A to Z as a character named Stu. Ben will often mock the failure of the show by ironically acting as if it was Henry's most significant role. Ben often repeats the line, "Stu, is that Stu?"
      • Whenever Marcus or Henry say that something "begs the question", Ben will make a point of actually asking the question.
      • "What about Barb?" "What about Barb?"
  • Serial Escalation: Brought up with regards to both serial killers and cult leaders, but for different reasons.
    • They observe multiple times during a heavy hitter series when a serial killer has to go further and further with their crimes. Often the first murder is accidental. From there, they begin killing on purpose to replicate the high they got off the first death, and have to do a little bit more each time to keep the feeling alive. This eventually culminates in a "berserker mode" for many if not caught in time, as was the case for Ted Bundy and his attack on a Florida sorority house.
    • Cult leaders have to escalate their claims to keep their followers. Whatever the cult starts with, as time goes on those claims become normalized and the cult becomes less focused. The leader, therefore, has to escalate his proclamations to keep everyone hooked on the cult and not thinking too much about anything else. Aum Shinrikyo went from a cult predicting the exact date of doomsday to actively taking steps to bring said apocalypse about themselves.
  • Serial Killer: The subjects of their "Heavy Hitters" series.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Almost every episode of the show ends with Marcus giving a shout-out to Ed Gein, Henry giving a shoutout to Satan, and Ben giving a shoutout to the listeners.
    • Some of the crazier theories about aliens eventually lead into references to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • Grant Morrison's The Invisibles is one of Marcus' favorite comic books, and it gets brought up fairly regularly.
  • Shown Their Work: Marcus and Henry (along with their research assistants) do a dizzying amount of research for their topics, and it shows.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Henry frequently reminds the listener that reality is a hologram.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Marcus has had a lot of practice using volume correction while recording this podcast in the last five years.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Discussed frequently in regards to the members of cults. The hosts note that one factor in a person staying with a cult long after it's gone off the deep end is this trope, as to question the leader is to question every decision they themselves have made since joining the cult and if the years of their life that they have spent with the cult have been a complete waste of time. People can't easily do that, so they stay in the cult.
  • Tulpa: In the "Men in Black" series, one theory mentioned is that the modern day incarnation of the Men in Black are tulpas formed by the unconscious mind of Albert Bender, the man known for first describing them in the fifties. In the second episode, it becomes a Running Gag that Ben repeatedly proclaims he knows what a tulpa is, regardless of the actual topic. In episode three, Ben tries to suggest that Freddy Kruger is a tulpa. After some back and forth, Marcus acknowledges that Ben is probably right about that, at least regarding Wes Craven's New Nightmare
  • Unreliable Narrator: The hosts absolutely love when they are able to get their information about a heavy hitter from the person themselves, such as via an autobiography. However, they are quick to note this trope is in effect and try to differentiate what they think is bullshit and what can be or has been corroborated. For example, Charles Manson's biography is clearly making an effort to make Manson sound like he was not nearly as involved as he was, while Pee-Wee Gaskins overstates his acts, claiming dozens, even hundreds of murders that are impossible to confirm.
  • Worth It: In the Casey Anthony series, the hosts tell the story of a man chosen to be a juror in the trial and, wanting no part of it, deliberately spoke to reporters as soon as he could, getting himself thrown off the jury and slapped with Contempt of Court. He proclaimed he had no regrets about this action.