Podcast of the Week: THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT
As my involvement with Crossfader has taught me, it’s always a strange feeling when you look out into the world for evidence of the impact of things you’re passionate about and have to keep looking. THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT is certainly not unheard of, resting at a cool 81 spot on a roundup of the top 200 podcasts out right now, but are you kidding me people? How do we live in a world where this isn’t one of the first podcasts you download? To me, THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT feels huge, and not just because the episodes easily stretch into hour-and-a-half territory. The personalities presented here are monolithic, the stories covered are often larger (and more disturbing) than life, and the camaraderie practically leaps out of the speakers and bludgeons you over the head. Henry, Ben, and Marcus feel like close confidants and old friends, and every week or so I find myself checking Pocket Casts, waiting for the next episode to drop. The show is slowly but surely rising, but get out in the streets and help boost it to the top of the pile, for chrissakes.
If you missed our brief write-up on THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT during last year’s Super Spooky Listicle series, on this show, “Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski form a glorious trifecta of awful as they explore the true stories of aliens, the occult, and most importantly, serial killers.” Essentially, with each episode, Marcus presents factual accounts of history’s biggest, baddest roster of things that go bump in the night and everyone takes the piss out of them. I must admit, I originally approached LPOTL after hearing it pitched as a “horror podcast,” and while it’s certainly horror adjacent, those who ride hard for other fare such as THE NO SLEEP PODCAST and CREEPY should have fair warning that it leans very, very heavily towards the comedy side of things. Thankfully, it’s consistently hilarious and occasionally pee-your-pants funny, with Henry Zebrowski proving himself each and every time as one of America’s most unsung comedic presences.
That’s not to sell Marcus and Ben short, by any means! Marcus’s “straight man” persona is undoubtedly the meat-and-potatoes that keeps the whole ship afloat, making it all the more entertaining when he cracks and indulges in a screaming fit or breaks into his trademark peals of laughter. Meanwhile, Ben finds himself somewhere in the middle, gamely going toe-to-toe with Henry in the ring of sheer, unfettered derangement, trading exaggerated voices but often brought to his knees in astonishment at the realization of the awful place the last joking throughline has landed them. But as is often the case, the sum is greater than the individual parts, and it’s hearing the way they all play off each other that makes LPOTL worth seeking out. A few months ago when a friend asked me to give him some notes on his podcast, I sent him over the way of our Three Musketeers to hear what effortless, flowing banter and connection sounds like—there is simply no better podcast in this regard.
What types of stories you prefer them to cover will obviously be a personal preference; Carter loves the serial killer episodes, but I’m a sucker for their takes on the famous cults of history. Although it may seem like an obvious first choice, hold off on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology until you’re a little more oriented and get yourself over to their coverage of either Aum Shinrikyo or the Children of God. Both of them feature each member on their A-game, and Henry’s impressions of Shoko Asahara will be a good acid test as to whether or not you can hang. Apart from cults, in general, anytime the team indulges in a conspiracy theory yields gold, so I’d also recommend “The Satanic Government” series. “The Lobster Boy Murders” and “Chris Benoit” are also stellar one-offs if you’re wary of investing your time right off the bat.
Long story short, THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT joins REPLY ALL at the top of what I consider to be entirely necessary listening experiences. Those who come from the strictly PG NPR school of thought might be a little turned off, but our demographic doesn’t typically reach people who are fucking boring, so I can rest easy knowing the majority of you will almost instantly fall in love. There’s no place to escape to.