I know I’m not the only one who chuckles when nervous or terrified. I also know I’m not the only one who laughs at horribly offensive jokes – you know, the kind that make most people cringe or shake their head in disgust. I don’t do it on purpose. I’m not a bad person. I just have a twisted sense of humor.
If you’re like me and the millions of others on this planet who love a good laugh and also have a deep affinity for researching all of the crazy stuff that most people label as “politically incorrect”, then do I have a podcast for you!
The Last Podcast on the Left is a free weekly podcast that takes a look at the most deranged humans in the history of mankind while also diving into the world of the weird – for every episode on Charles Manson or OJ Simpson, one can find an episode on gnomes, fairies or urban legends. Let’s not forget the Creepypasta episodes, where the three gentlemen read some of their favorite stories from the web.
The show is hosted by a trio of comedians and writers – Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski. All three have extensive experience behind the mic, as both podcast contributors and stand-up comedians, while Henry has also graced the small and big screen on everything from Heroes: Reborn to The Wolf of Wall Street.
As a major fan of the show, I decided to reach out to Marcus Parks, the lead researcher on the show and station manager over at Cave Comedy Radio. Mr. Parks was kind enough to take some time out of his insanely busy schedule and chat about the show and hat the podcast deems off-limits, while also doubling down on a new name for himself. Head up – it’s an inside joke that only listeners of the show will get, so don’t get mad if the final question of this interview makes no sense to you.
MANGLED MATTERS: Who or what brought the three of you together for The Last Podcast on the Left?
MARCUS PARKS: Cannibal Holocaust. I interviewed Ben for a podcast I did a long time ago and we hit it off immediately so I invited him over to my house to watch Cannibal Holocaust which he’d never seen and the amount we both laughed told us we’d work well together. Ben was roommates with Holden McNeely who is in a sketch group called Murderfist with Henry, and once all three of us started hanging out together we thought it would be a good idea for us to do a podcast about the stuff we were already getting drunk and talking about together anyway.
MM: I know you have a few research assistants these days, but especially early on, you were the research man for the show. I don’t imagine your schedule has gotten much lighter even with the awesome assistants you have, since your passion for each topic shows every week. How many hours a week would you guess you spend researching the topic for the show?
MP: It all depends on the topic, but I would say minimum five hours for something simple like Sexy Ghosts and weeks for the more serious ones like Columbine and 9/11. On average, I would say up to 15-20 hours per week.
MM: How do you three determine what topic is going to be spotlighted each week?
MP: We alternate between types of episodes, aliens, ghosts, true crime, and so on. We do a Heavy Hitter every four episodes which are episodes about well-known killers like Bundy and not so well-known but very interesting ones like Charles Ng and Leonard Lake. The ones in between are just stuff we come across in our day-to-day lives. Choosing episode topics is actually the easiest part of the job because there’s just so much. We usually have the next five or six episodes planned out in advance so I can do little bits of research here and there. Then I can give my research assistants plenty of time to do in-depth work.
MM: Of all the topics you’ve showcased on the show over the last several years, what topic has stuck with you the most, for better or worse?
MP: Because there’s so much information involved in these episodes , anything I research usually gets pushed out by the next week’s topic, but 9/11 and the Franklin Cover-Up stuck with me. 9/11 because I had to immerse myself, and my assistants, so deeply into the subject matter it was all I could think about for about a month. I know it’s still at the forefront of the minds of a lot of Americans but seeing every side of what happened down there stuck with me, especially since I can walk 200 yards outside of the studio door and stare at the spot where the towers used to be. I did that a lot that month.
MM: Is there a specific topic you guys would consider “off limits” for the show? I can’t imagine there being anything, but you never know.
MP: We will never cover the Mexican drug cartels because there is an actual real danger to life and limb. Quite a few journalists have been killed for just tweeting. One of the points of the show is to make fun of the perpetrators, and if they’re killing people for tweets, I’m not sure they’d take too kindly to three dudes making fun of them for hours on end.
MM: With such a large and dedicated fan base to the show, did you ever imagine this podcast getting this big?
MP: I really didn’t. I knew we were on to something early on, but I never thought it would get to this point. It’s only getting bigger every day and for that we’re beyond thankful. We knew there was a market for true crime, aliens, and ghosts, you only have to look on cable to figure that out, but we didn’t know there were so many people willing to laugh at it all.
MM: Not only are you the station manager of Cave Comedy Radio and the best damned researcher in the podcast game, but you also are a massive music fan. Tell us a little about the band you are currently in and if there are any upcoming events where fans can see you playing for The Cowmen?
MP: The Cowmen is a five piece band we started about five years ago. The genre we like to call ourselves is nightmare country, very much rooted in outlaw country artists like Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, but also a little punk as well with a very dark edge. Most of the songs take place in a fictional community called Russiatown, where snakes are used as currency, the tomb of the Cancer Boy is worshipped by all, and preachers are murdered on site at Satan’s Old Saloon. You can check out our self- titled album on Spotify and we’re working on our second one right now, featuring songs about a lovesick necrophiliac who kills the sheriff in his quest to be reunited with his sweetheart, a riverside murder that ends in the lynching of the wrong man, and a supernatural Indian with the power to turn into an axe-wielding eagle.
MM: Who are some of your favorite musicians at this very moment? I imagine, like most people depending on their moods or just the day of the week, your list changes regularly.
MP: It definitely changes. It’s been a year of Bowie since he died. I’ve been listening to him more than anyone else over the last year. But I’m also listening to a lot of the Stooges, Black Angels, Country Teasers, Ramones. I also go for quite a bit of Nirvana and I’m a huge Liars fan. I’ll always be a Tom Waits fan. Sonic Youth has definitely been up there lately, and Butthole Surfers. I’m also a huge Brian Eno fan, Here Come the Warm Jets is among my favorite albums, as well as the Talking Heads. Gogol Bordello will always hold a special place in my heart, same with Lightning Bolt.
MM: You guys are racking up the flyer miles these days with all of your much anticipated live shows. If you had to pick one moment of madness, what instance while on the road would you say was the most insane encounter with a fan so far? Feel free to drop names or change names to protect the guilty, your call.
MP: I know this is kind of boring but our fans are the best in the world and for the most part are surprisingly normal people, or at least they’re normal to us. Our fans are usually the type of people we would hang out with anyway and a lot of times remind me of friends I already have.
MM: Lastly, the question everyone truly wants an answer for- if you had to choose, would you rather legally change your name to Dogmeat or Marky Sparks?
MP: I’m doubling down on Dr. Gasoline.
Want to help support the fellas and their ever-growing list of live shows coming up? Contribute to their Patreon page for some sweet perks!