When Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – co-hosts of the wildly popular true crime comedy podcast "My Favorite Murder"– first bonded, it wasn't over a grisly death. It was self-help guruwho brought them together.
"We were at a very uncomfortable dinner party that was too small to be loud and boisterous," Kilgariff told "CBS This Morning." "And the tension was kind of building and in the middle of it Georgia just went 'Let's all go around the table and say what we feel the most vulnerable about. Everyone else went totally silent and I said 'Are you reading Brené Brown right now?!'"
The next time they realized they had something in common was at a Halloween party. As Hardstark describes it, her now-partner brought up some "horrible event" and the people around her at the party started to scatter. Not Hardstark. "Across the room I was like 'tell me every single detail.'"
It's a fitting meet-cute for the pair who went on to create a true crime comedy show that its fans – who call themselves "murderinos" – say is so much more than just a podcast. "My Favorite Murder" averages more than two million listeners per episode, 30 million downloads a month and has inspired the kind of fandom that results in tattoos. For legions of its loyal and largely female fanbase, it has become an opportunity to explore their fears and their fascinations.
"We've both been obsessed (with true crime) but like secretly because it's kind of a taboo subject," Hardstark said.
True crime has been popular for years, though, as Kilgariff pointed out. Shows like "Forensic Files" and "48 Hours" have been on the air for decades.
"It's not new. It's just I think that us talking about it and having casual conversations has kind of normalized it," Kilgariff said.
But balancing the casual with the macabre is what sets the pair apart. For the uninitiated, Kilgariff explained how they approach death with humor: "It's a conversation about the story." She likens what they do to post-shows like "Talking Dead" which break down, analyze and obsess over the show "The Walking Dead."
"We're in no way crime journalists or professionals really," she said. "It's kind of like we're talking about the case conversationally as people who have been paying attention for a long time."
It's also important to Hardstark and Kilgariff that there is an element of empathy and understanding for both the victims and their families, often delving into details about their life and making an effort to think about them as more than just a "victim."
"I think when you watch these shows, the true crime shows and read the books and you come at it from a place of empathy and understanding that this could happen to anyone you know, it could happen to you, the way it affects their families. It's so important to come at it from that place," Georgia said.
The women have grown their podcast empire, which includes sold-out live shows, merchandise and now a joint memoir titled "Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide" – a nod to their sign-off at the end of each episode. Much like their happenstance partnership, it was just something that kind of occurred.
"We knew we needed to have a sign-off, a memorable sign-off, so we each just said something and then that's basically what it turned into," Kilgariff said. "I think it's just kind of about you get to do what you want in this life and survive and thrive and I don't think we meant it to be so philosophical in the beginning but I think that's what it's come to mean."