Last month, we discussed the unique combination of comedy and true crime in podcasting. Call it a coincidence, divine intervention, or whatever the heck you’d like to, but displayed front and center on Podcast Row during CrimeCon this past April was a podcast that perfectly illustrates the beauty of this eclectic blend.
That show is appropriately titled Fruitloops: Serial Killers of Color.
Okay, they were actually in the back, middle row of the exhibit hall, but you definitely couldn’t miss hosts Wendy and Beth in their Fruitloops attire and wigs.
Listen to just a couple of their shows, and it’s clear these ladies know how to have fun. In fact, you could probably place Fruitloops in even more categories than Comedy and True Crime. Given their conversations on the show, they’d be at home in History, Health and Fitness, and Society and Culture, too.
Reflecting on the many laughs had during our interview at CrimeCon, we’ll focus on the comedic elements for the purposes of this feature.
“My whole goal is to just get her to laugh,” admitted Wendy, in light of Beth’s almost maniacal laugh at the beginning of the conversation.
The first question was even a little tongue in cheek, around the core brand of the podcast and why serial killers of color need more attention:
“It started out as a niche, and then became more about the victims,” Beth answered. “We needed something that was different, so that was the initial idea.”
“It was a sneaky trick,” laughed Wendy. “We talked about the serial killings, but there are so many elements that contribute to serial killers becoming who they are. We talk about things like The Great Migration, poverty, the war on drugs on communities of color, and how those all contributed to what led people—both the serial killers and the victims—to the situations they were in.”
Fruitloops is a good example of what seems to be a niche, or trend, in podcasting—a genre in which a host or creator chooses a category or topic that appeals to a certain audience and then uses that platform to, in essence, have a multitude of conversations on topics that are important to that group. That foundation is also leveraged to have some lighthearted fun and enjoyment among the tribe of “fruities,” as Wendy and Beth refer to their listeners.
To that point, Beth offered the following, “We’re fascinated with true crime, but it’s actually more of a medium for us to talk about other things.”
Given their loyal following, their formula simply works. Surprisingly, the episodes are scripted (to a point), but the show sounds anything but. This is a testament not only to Wendy and Beth’s ability to adlib, but also to their chemistry and talent for properly injecting humor into the show.
“We start out with a script,” Beth explained. “We will always want to talk about the history at the beginning, and then we have sections that we do every time. But how we craft each section is different.”
“When I’m researching a case, I’m thinking of it mostly from a cultural context,” Wendy continued. “I want to make sure that I insert my perspective as a person of color or as a queer person, especially in the history part. There might be a behavior within the story, whether by the killer or the victims, that White listeners might not understand. So, I will inject a ‘culture corner’ there.”
“When we started the podcast, coming from the White perspective, I didn’t even know to look for Black history,” Beth said, speaking to the “culture corner” portions of the show. “A lot of the information out there in Encyclopedia Britannica and other sources are from a White perspective. You have to look for the Black and Indigenous history. It’s not always there. Wendy would point things out, and I’d think, ‘Oh sh*t… I didn’t even think of that.’ So her perspective is key.”
“And hers is key, also!” Wendy chimed in quickly, producing a laugh from both of them. This segued into how well they work together and complement each other, which adds a boatload of authenticity to the podcast.
Wendy and Beth’s obvious friendship started well before the podcast launched. The idea began at work. “We work together, and we were already friends, so we would of course chat around the water cooler,” Beth reminisced. “We realized that we both were into true crime. Then, we started talking about podcasts we were listening to. It was Atlanta Monster that really got us talking.”
They laughed as they talked about Beth being the driving force behind launching Fruitloops. “I thought she was joking,” laughed Wendy. “But I was like, ‘I guess we need to do this podcast.’”
“We started even having official meetings and taking notes,” Wendy shared about their creative process. They researched many aspects of launching a podcast in those early days. “Like what’s an RSS feed?” Wendy offered as example. “I still don’t know what that is!”
That statement produced a number of laughs and was indicative of the authentic humor that is present in the show. That is part of the beauty of the podcast. Even though they cover some heavy topics, Wendy and Beth inject comedy the right way, likely without even realizing they are producing a comedic segment, sometimes.
“I have kind of a twisted sense of humor,” Beth chuckled. “So, it comes naturally. If you bring some levity, it makes some of the details easier to hear.”
“I’ve heard other people of color say if we didn’t laugh, we would break down and cry all the time, just living in this life,” Wendy added. “Humor, for me, is a way to survive.”
As discussed in the Comedy Category feature in last month’s issue, humor has a therapeutic aspect to it that is important to remember. This was definitely the case when being immersed in an amazing weekend at CrimeCon. So many great things are happening in and for society through podcasts, but many times, there is a very dark underlying tone. Listening to Wendy and Beth laugh, on their show or in person, provides some needed and welcomed comic relief.
Wendy and Beth talked about the theory of tragedy + time = comedy. Wendy offered the following analogy: “Somebody has to slip on the banana peel and bust their *ss in order for all of us to laugh. There has to be a tragic element to it in order to be amusing.”
“I had a teacher once talk about how comedy and drama are on either side of 12 o’clock. One was at [12:01], and one was at [11:59]. Really close!” shared Beth.
To say that Fruitloops offers a lot to the listener is an understatement. If you want to learn, if you want to laugh, if you want to let loose at the end of your day, odds are that listening to Wendy and Beth will do it.
July 2022 Issue