In our Words Of Wisdom with a podcaster comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean shares with us the hilarity and horror of her podcast, All Killa No Filla, and what it takes to start a successful podcast.
Kiri Pritchard-McLean is a force of nature. At Latitude 2018 she packed the Cabaret Theatre to bursting point alongside Jayde Adams with their show AMusical. She has not one but four careers: she hosts the podcast All Killa No Filla alongside fellow comedian Rachel Fairburn, she’s an award-winning comedian with her latest solo show Victim, Complex garnering rave reviews and she’s also part of the comedy sketch group, Gein’s Family Giftshop. So, we knew if there was one person who could dispense nuggets of wisdom about podcasts whilst making us lol, it had to be Kiri Pritchard-McLean.
The first All Killa No Filla was fittingly released on Halloween in 2014. Since then Rachel and Kiri have released over 50 podcasts slicing apart the life and crimes of famous and not so famous serial killers. What sets All Killa No Filla apart from other true crime podcasts is that it brings the laughs as Kiri and Rachel interweave painfully honest anecdotes from their personal lives and jokes alongside the bloodshed.
In our interview with Kiri Pritichard-McLean she reveals what goes into making a podcast like All Killa No Filla, why murder is a feminist issue and how her new show Victim, Complex was inspired by Queen Bey.
All Killa No Filla feels like you and Rachel chatting with the serial killer story interwoven into it. How do you come up with the ideas for the each show? Is a lot of the show pre-prepared?
Everything really is meticulous. We do loads of research on the serial killer…we write up all the information that we want to share and as we do it we have a catch up. As we don’t see each other very often, we’ll say, ‘oh you know that bit when they got caught?’ and I’m like, ‘have I told you the story about when my Dad got pulled over by the police’ and she might go, ‘save it for the podcast, love’.
How long does it take you to research each show?
Between us we do about 10 hours because we want to try to cover all of the bases, and we want to try to be as accurate as we can… We are trying to be respectful as well and not be salacious, which would be an easy thing to do. So, lots of research.
How do you normally record the podcast? Is it just the two of you in a studio?
No, no studios [laughs]. We’re doing it in cabin in north Manchester – nothing as a glamorous as a studio or producer. It actually feels less pressure because it’s more like a gig, which we do five or six nights anyway. It’s not that different to how we chat from when we’re with each other.
How did you and Rachel come up with the idea of making a serial killer podcast?
We didn’t really know each other, but people kept saying ‘oh you should speak to Rachel’. Or, ‘oh, you should speak to Kiri’ because people knew that we both were interested in serial killers. We live down the road from each other, but we didn’t really know each other.
I went over and hung out and recorded one podcast – which was terrible. We were sure there was as many people who were interested in serial killers as we are and, even though back that everyone had a podcast, we were like, ‘well, let’s just try it’.
I think it was our comedian pals listening at first and it was really well received, and then it just blew up very quickly after about six months. We did some live shows and now it’s this huge thing [laughs].
When you said it “blew up” did you do anything in particular to build an audience? Was it off the back of your careers as comedians?
I think some forums recommended us and then loads of true crime people in America started listening. We were suddenly appearing on these lists of podcasts to listen to and it just got bigger and bigger.
When we did live shows the first year in Edinburgh I think people came in not knowing what to expect and liked it and we had a peak then. Comedians with higher profiles like Joe Lycett, Sara Pascoe and people like that started saying they really liked it and then that led to people finding us again.
We’re so bad at promoting as we do it all on our own and probably only tweet once a month about it from our own accounts. The All Killa account, we tweet once when we’ve got a new podcast. We don’t promote it at all [Laughs]…It’s not some kind of cynical well-oiled machine – it’s absolutely by accident and not design [laughs].
What’s it like doing the All Killa No Fillla podcast live?
It’s great. I suppose most people wouldn’t be there if they didn’t listen to the podcast, so everyone’s really on board. You realise people have listened to you for fifty hours so they know you really well; it’s what I imagine being famous is like, you know if you’re a famous comedian everyone knows everything about you and already likes you.
The audience members are always dead giddy and are people with our interests… they’ve got a really good humour as well. It’s always really funny with people joining in; as opposed to the normal stuff you have to deal with in a comedy club on a weekend. We love that and it’s just a good excuse to get dressed up like we’re the lead singers of a glam rock band.
You’ve done over 50 episodes of the podcast so far. Who are the top 3 favourite serial killers you’ve covered?
Jeffrey Dahmer is in my top three, because he’s fascinating. H.H Holmes, who we did a live episode on, is also fascinating – I think it would be sort of nice to do his life story.
Delphine LaLaurie, we haven’t done a podcast yet, but he’s in my top three. He’s fascinating, a socialite in New Orleans – it was horrific. Nicholas Cage bought the house where all the murders happened, always a good fact.
What are the most gruesome serial killer crimes you’ve covered?
There’s a couple. We’ve not done Albert Fish yet which is horrific…he used to cannibalise children. Richard Ramirez we did recently and that was really hard, they were very violent.
We did a three parter on Fred and Rose West once…by the second one we were like, ‘oh god, this horrific, we just want to get this out of the way’. Some of the research can really take it out of you as a human.
A lot of the crimes serial killers commit often seem to be crimes against women
Yeah, of course. Murder is a feminist thing in that we’re usually the ones that get killed. We’re rarely the ones who committed it and if we are, we tend to get harsher sentences. It’s hard not to have so much feminism interwoven into what we talk about.
That’s what I think is most interesting about it, is that every serial killer tells you something about the world they’re operating in…If they’re able to be a serial killer and they get to a certain number it means they’re getting away with it.
What do you think it is that attracts people to listening to stories about serial killers? On paper, it’s quite a hard thing to listen to.
There are so many true crime podcasts, so whatever your vibe is you’ll find something that suits you. Maybe people are draw to the podcast particularly because it’s not salacious and sexy or like I would say, ‘I’m so bored of women dying with their tits out’. There’s a lot of victim blaming, which we don’t do.
I think it’s that feminist angle and I think the majority of crimes are just so far removed from reality, really…I think we want to know about the psychology of how someone can be pushed so far to kill people; the whole argument between nature versus nurture, and all that kind of stuff we’re really fascinated by.
What podcasts do you listen to?
I don’t listen to True Crime as I think I need a busman’s holiday. I really love Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye – it’s brilliant. He’s really keen, an autodidact; he wants to know about the Middle East, teen suicide in America – all this heavy stuff.
He gets a person to come on and talk about it and he educates himself and you listen to it and you learn so much. I really love that at the moment.
What would your advice be to anyone starting a podcast?
Don’t give up, I guess. We just kept doing it because we liked doing it and loads of podcasts tail off. If you’re really interested in a subject just keep doing it, because if it’s good it’ll find an audience; that might not be a million people, it might be 500 who are dead keen and really engaged. That’s what it should be about, making a good thing as opposed to, ‘this is my way of getting famous’…
You have a very prolific career as alongside All Killa No Filla you perform solo comedy shows, are one quarter of the sketch group Gein’s Family Giftshop and are a part of Amusical – which you performed at Latitude 2018. Which of your projects do you prefer the most?
No, they all exercise different muscles. I love being onstage with Rachel who’s great; doing All Filla is brill and I love hanging out with her – she makes me laugh so much. I love being onstage with Jade and Dave and the band [in Amusical]; it’s completely different set of circumstances – it’s joyous and completely silly.
I love my own stuff as well, it’s probably a bit more serious and really getting stuck into something I really want to talk about. For Gein’s we’ve got a nice sketch team, I love hosting that as it’s completely different -I don’t really have to prepare, I just go and find someone in the room.
It’s all just ways of me unintentionally having fun, and all this stuff is just different ways of keeping my brain so it doesn’t get bored or go off on a tangent.
It’s about four different careers in one! How do you find the time?
I don’t spend much time at home. I’m a very a very bad mother to dog – don’t worry, she’s alright! I just don’t see the people I love as much as I would like…I find taking time off really hard, because I love every part of my job.
I feel I’m getting paid to do the things I love most in the world and it’s hard to ever say, ‘no’. Then, I realise I have to take time off, because I’m better at my job when I do – my boyfriend’s really good at forcing me to take time off.
It’s a good problem to have
Totally. I’ve been doing it for eight years and I’ve worked so hard to get here. I’ve been gigging six nights a week and holding down two jobs, so the fact that I’m here now is a testament to how hard I’ve worked…I don’t really know how else to do it, of course I’m going to throw myself into it.
Sometimes when I’m really tired and moany and I say, ‘I don’t want to do this thing tomorrow’ my boyfriend’s great because he’s says, ‘we get to do this, we don’t have to do this’. To remind yourself of that every now and then is really useful.
Your most recent solo show Victim, Complex had rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival. You always do very personal shows with very gritty subject matter and this show is about being in an abusive relationship. What’s that been like to perform six nights a week?
Edinburgh was rough – it was really draining. I think I did 30 shows by the end of the run and sometimes it was two a day and it definitely took its toll, like ‘god, I don’t want to say those words again’. It’s such an intense thing to relive all the stuff that happened.
I’m going tour on with it, but I’m quite lucky as I don’t have it where I’m gigging every night – I think it would f**king kill me to have to do that – I’ve got three dates at once so I can reset between them.
I’m really proud of it and I’m really glad I did it, but I definitely didn’t make things easy to myself.
What draws you to addressing sensitive subjects in your stand up? In your previous shows you’ve talked out about sexism in comedy and your experience volunteering with vulnerable children.
With this show I was writing another show and then all this stuff happened, it got in the way and I couldn’t not talk about it, so that was sort of decided for me.
I try to talk about stuff that I don’t ever talk about and I try to do something that isn’t funny, because I have to be a better comedian at the of every year. If you talk about something that you think, ‘I don’t know how to make that funny’. Your job is then that you’ve got a year to try and change that.
I love my job but it has to be like (I’m going to sound like such a dick now ), intellectually stimulating as well as creatively. That’s where the excitement comes from is pulling it off, well potentially [pulling it off] because, like I say, it’s open to debate as to whether I pull it off [laughs].
Is it also one of those things of when it has been a bad experience you have to make some of the darker bits funny to actually move on and to make yourself not feel like a victim?
Oh my god, yes! …The show I’m really proud of and I’m really lucky people saw it and it had nice reviews. I could look it and be like, ‘that was eight f**king years of my life, it’s just an absolute waste’. Now, I’m like ‘no, I took that sh*tshow and turned it into something good that I’m proud of and I’m moving on’.
As part of the show I compare it to Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ track, because the reason she called it that is because her grandma said: ‘when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade’. I definitely managed to make lemonade out of this sh**ty situation.
You host Amusical with Jayde Adams where comedians sing their favourite songs from the musicals accompanied by your house band, Dave and the Quavers. What was it like to perform Amusical at Latitude 2018?
It was amazing. Latitude is always a huge thing in the calendar and like, ‘one day we’re going to do Latitude’…We had an incredible gig, they had to pull the signs off the tent to get everyone in and the atmosphere was great.
With Latitude people are open-minded but they haven’t come there to see us. Having all these people that we have to win over with the show you’re like, ‘does it stand up? Yeah, it does we’ve got all these people singing along and laughing’. It was amazing, so great.
What’s your favourite memory of Latitude festival?
I hosted the Main Stage in maybe 2016. No one had heard of me and Tanya [Harrison, Latitude Arts Booker] had come and seen me perform and was like, ‘oh, you’re good’. I was like, ‘oh my god, I’m going to go to the Latitude, amazing’.
She was like, ‘you’re going to host the Main Stage’, and I was like, ‘holy sh*t’. I just never had anything like that happen before. I was like, ‘oh my god, I can’t do this’, but it was like she wouldn’t put you on if she didn’t think you could do it.
Having someone think that you’re good, it’s just a big boost in confidence. Because you’re like, ‘if she thinks you’re good and she really knows her sh*t, maybe I’m alright then?’ It just gives you this confidence boost and you don’t want to let her down, because she’s going to look like a dick if she says, ‘this girl’s great’, and I go and dick it up.
It was really exciting to have someone who knows their audience believing in you.
For more groundbreaking comedy, music and arts snap up your tickets for Latitude 2019 returning to Henham Park, Southwold on 18th-21st July 2019.