Why does true crime need to be all blood and guts and gore? If you’re feeling a little serial-killered-out, then let us introduce you to “Ridiculous Crime.” It’s a podcast dedicated to the absurd and outlandish crimes that bruised only egos and baffled eye witnesses, law enforcement officials, and sometimes even the perpetrators themselves. Described as 99% murder-free and 100% ridiculous, “Ridiculous Crime” is bringing some much-needed levity to the true crime charts.
Okay, technically this show is listed in the history genre, somewhat of a cousin to iHeartPodcast’s “Ridiculous History,” but it’s all crime all the time. A new podcast from iHeart, only a handful of episodes are out so far, so you’ll be anxiously awaiting more. New episodes are being released biweekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, each approximately 50 minutes long.
You know what’s ridiculous?
While the concept of “Ridiculous Crime” is probably enough, hosts Zaron Burnett and Elizabeth Dutton are infectiously delightful. Zaron is an actor, director, and freelance journalist, and Elizabeth is a former English professor and author of Driftwood. Whether the two knew each other before this podcast or not isn’t important because these two are endlessly entertaining. Quick with a sarcastic quip and partial to hilarious storytelling, the duo could probably make watching paint dry the most entertaining part of anyone’s day.
But, onto the content. They start each episode asking each other, “You know what’s ridiculous?” Before rambling off things like the inflatable furniture craze of the ’90s, the fact that dentists created both cotton candy and the electric chair, the band name Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (🤢), and PCP. This then segues them into the ridiculous crime of the episode, with their storytelling duties being traded off every episode. The stories are read from the court documents of each case because somehow the ridiculousness reached criminal levels.
A first class fecal fiasco
Both hosts have a propensity for placing each other in these stories, making up fictional eye witnesses or dramatizing what the witnesses of the ridiculousness were thinking. Like when Elizabeth regales Zaron with the outrageous tale of a fecal-filled flight from Buenos Aires in 1995. She asks him to picture himself as a Yale astronomy professor who just crushed his speech at the Planetario Galileo Galilei and is returning to JFK in first class (somehow).
Only this Yale professor’s first foray in business class goes horribly, putridly wrong when fellow business class passenger Gerard Finneran was refused alcoholic beverages after pounding glass after glass of champagne. Not only did Wall Street investment banker Finneran steal bottles of wine and champagne off of the beverage cart, not only did he attack and threaten flight attendants, not only did he defecate on top of the food cart in first class, but he also smeared his own feces across the cabin before locking himself in the bathroom.
In this very aptly named episode “Oh, It Gets Worse: Air Rage on United Flight 976,” we learn that this flight couldn’t even make an emergency landing because Portuguese president Mário Soares and Argentinian foreign minister Guido di Tella were on board. The captains wanted to divert to an airport in Puerto Rico, but because of the security risk of the foreign dignitaries, they had to continue flying for four more hours to New York. In a poop- and perfume-infused plane. That poor Yale professor (who is not real, it is merely Zaron being somewhat cruelly embedded in this story).
The smell was so putrid in the first class cabin that the flight attendants hilariously sprayed Karl Lagerfeld perfume throughout the aisles, which Zaron notes is probably still a traumatic, flashback-inducing smell for those passengers. The plane eventually landed without any food service due to the unsanitary conditions of the food cart, and Finneran was arrested. Also, his lawyers blamed it on traveler’s diarrhea and the foreign dignitaries on the plane for locking Finneran out of the bathroom. Nice.
And this is just one of so many ridiculous crimes that Zaron and Elizabeth ruminate on, although they typically involve fewer bowel movements despite Elizabeth enjoying coming up with bountiful synonyms for diarrhea. Hear about the man who stripped Epcot’s Buzz Lightyear naked one bit at a time, or the man who kidnapped Frank Sinatra Jr. but didn’t want to seem too greedy with the ransom. Also, there’s a great story about the man who stole Guy Fieri’s bright yellow Lamborghini and a PCP trip gone awry. The two are bitingly funny, and they let their imaginations truly run wild with each story they tell. Add a little levity to your true crime listening spree with “Ridiculous Crime.”