By Dave Pehling
OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The creators of the popular weekly Last Podcast on the Left bring their obsessions with cryptids, UFOs, conspiracy theories and serial killers to the stage at the Fox Theater in Oakland Thursday.
Started in 2011 by three longtime friends — stand-up comic and host Ben Kissel, producer and researcher Marcus Parks and comedian and actor Henry Zebrowski, who didn’t join in until the third episode — the podcast (named after horror master Wes Craven’s first film) has built a large following with it’s freewheeling and entertaining deep dives into true crime, cannibalism, UFO encounters and a wide array of horrors, both historic and fictional.
While one might think the grim subject matter would limit the amount of humor the trio would be able to bring to the episodes, their easy profane banter, shared streak of absurdist dark humor and Zebrowski’s knack for coming up with recurring characters (he’s acted in the films The Wolf of Wall Street and the Robert De Niro/Zac Efron comedy Dirty Grandpa in addition to appearing on the Adult Swim show Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell, NBC’s Heroes Reborn and HBO’s Crashing) have helped the podcast grow from it’s initial cult following to become wildly popular.
Despite the comic and often profane approach to their chosen macabre topics, Parks adds a level of depth and sophistication as the podcast’s principal researcher, adding to the appeal for the regular listeners who take the subjects seriously. After their first few years of creating the podcast as a labor of love, their following grew to where the trio was able set up a Patreon page to crowdfund the show, building a group of over 11,000 followers who contribute $57,000 to the cause each month. The show has also spun off the separate The Last Stream on the Left on the Adult Swim website (not to mention a number of animated tributes appearing on YouTube). In 2017, Last Podcast on the Left won a Webby award for Best Comedy Podcast.
The trio has also taken to staging live versions of the podcast that are recorded for later broadcast. Last year, the podcasters appeared in San Francisco at Clusterfest as one of the featured attractions in the festival’s Larkin Comedy Club. Fresh from a week-long tour of Australia last month, the crew returns to the Bay Area with its multi-media show, kicking off it’s current U.S. tour with this appearance at the Fox Theater in Oakland.
Last Podcast on the Left
Thursday, July 18, 8 p.m. $25-$50