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All Killa No Filla: Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean on tour

All Killa No Filla: Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean on tour

7 min read

Comedians Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean talk to us about their new tour, celebrating ten years of their hit podcast All Killa No Filla
Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean are stand-up comedians, appearing on programmes such as Live at the Apollo and 8 Out of 10 Cats. They’ve hosted their true crime/comedy podcast, All Killa No Filla, together since 2014, which has grown to include UK tours, Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs, and a tour of the United States.
Rachel and Kiri are now embarking on a celebratory national tour of ten shows, in ten cities, to celebrate ten years of podcasting with their listeners, the Legends. Here, they talk to us about their memories of meeting each other and starting the podcast, growing their community of Legends, and what they're looking forward to about touring. 

What are your memories of meeting each other?

Rachel: We're both comedians, and we lived opposite each other in North Manchester. At the time, you wouldn’t really get put on the same comedy line-up as another woman, for two reasons: it was quite a sexist environment still, even at that time, and there weren't that many women. So, we hadn’t crossed paths in a work sense, and we hadn’t bumped into each other despite living across the road from each other.
But people kept telling us that we had similar interests—like the supernatural, taxidermy, anything weird—and we both had material about serial killers. So, people were like, “oh, you should meet each other”, but when someone says that to me, I always go, “I don't want to meet this person ever!”
Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean sit on a stage in sparkly capes and look back over their shoulder towards the camera
Kiri: All I knew about Rachel is that she was another woman in Manchester doing comedy, and I knew that she was funny. I then Googled her and saw that she was good looking, and immediately was like, “I don't think I'm going to get on with her”. I remember feeling deeply threatened by how attractive she was, and—because I was very early into my journey with feminism—really wanting her to be rubbish, because I didn't think it was fair that someone that good-looking could also be funny.
Rachel: I had a house party and Kiri came; I don't remember much of the party because I ended up getting drunk and I had to be put to bed at about 10pm—terrible. We just got chatting. I can't even remember who it was, but one of us said, “Should we do a podcast?”, then we were wondering what we would talk about and realised the thing we're most interested in: “let's talk about serial killers!” We didn't think anyone was going to listen, and here we are ten years later.

How did you find recording the first episodes?

Rachel: We recorded one episode, which we refer to as the Lost Tape, and thank God it is lost because it was b****y awful! I just remember us chatting and rambling. When you listen to very early episodes, which I can't allow myself to do, it's two people who didn't know each other that well getting to know each other.
"We started recording in it my back bedroom in Manchester, and we did everything ourselves"
~Rachel Fairburn
We just started recording it in my back bedroom in North Manchester. We did everything ourselves: we edited it ourselves, we uploaded everything ourselves, and we put it out there, and then people started listening.

So, your friendship really evolved as the podcast evolved?

Kiri: I think one of the lovely things is that when you listen to the podcast, you can hear us becoming good friends, and how important we’ve come to be to each other. I think that did happen quickly, and it was a relief that it wasn't just going to be a purely business relationship. I don't think we would have ten years under our belt if it was just two people cynically going, “right: true crime, comedy, let's put them together”.
Kiri and Rachel laugh together, standing on a stage
But we got on so well: we had a really similar sense of humour, and a similar taste in loads of things, like music, clothes, useless men—that's an overlap as well. So, it became a very natural friendship. As a social science experiment, I think the podcast has value!

How do you find the comedy in gruesome true crime?

Rachel: We never find the humour in what we're talking about, if that makes sense—we’re very careful to be massively respectful. We take the research side of it incredibly seriously, and we're very keen on getting as much information on victims as we can, to create a picture of the person that has been killed. We don't glorify serial killers at all. I think the fact that we are careful around what we talk about, and that we are respectful about the subject matter, is probably another factor in the podcast’s success.
It’s like when you’re watching a documentary about something serious and you’re chatting to the person you’re watching it with. That’s where the humour comes from: your mind springs off to other things. Like if a murder happened in Birmingham, then we discuss, “oh the last time I was in Birmingham, this happened”, and then it just spirals from there. We can talk rubbish about anything; sometimes we don't even know where the tangent has come from.
"We can talk rubbish about anything; sometimes I don't even know where the tangent has come from"
~Rachel Fairburn
Kiri: I think the key is to always be really clear about who the victims are. Most of the time the victim of the joke is us. But also, if it's to do with the case, and we're making light, it will never be about the actual victims. Fortunately for us, there are enough arrogant bumbling police officers around for us to satirise without punching down on the people who are already victims. So, for me, it's always actually been a really easy balance to strike.

What are you looking forward to in your upcoming tour?

Rachel: It’s been such a long time since we've done a tour: the last tour was 2019. I can’t believe it was that long ago! I'm looking forward to getting back out there, doing these lovely venues and just having a good laugh again. I think it's nice to celebrate ten years in that way, isn't it?
I am looking forward to being on stage and having the Legends there. And also, it's quite nice, because the last tour was a mixture of big venues and little venues, and these are all really big venues, so it's going to be really good fun.
"We didn't think anyone was going to listen to our serial killer podcast, but here we are ten years later!"
~Rachel Fairburn
Kiri: It's going to be great. Also, we haven't done what we did on the 2019 tour since that tour, where we pick one case and talk about it for the whole time. We don't sit there and write jokes—it is improvised chat, but it does become more refined because you just find bits that work and lead into things, like “oh, I'll say that bit again, because you've got to tell that story, it was so funny”. So, I think the show will be really sparkling.
We were desperate to do a tour again because we just wanted to be in a room with the Legends again, but we’re so busy. So, we sat down and worked hard with our brilliant producers and said, “right, we've only really got time to do ten shows: let's pick our favourite cities and a few places that we've never been that we've always wanted to play”. Newcastle and Ireland: please forgive us, I promise we will come back!

You’re playing the gorgeous Manchester Opera House on one of your tour dates. Does bringing the podcast back to Manchester feel like a full circle moment?

Rachel: Being from Manchester, it's always nice to do big venue in Manchester. The first place we ever did a live show in Manchester was The Castle Hotel, in the back room. So, going from that to now is pretty cool. It feels pretty good to me, going from a back bedroom in Harpurhey to the Opera House. I think that's pretty good going.
Kiri: It's amazing. I am really proud of us. I've never played that room, but I've been to see so many iconic shows that I find really inspiring. But I also think there are lots of venues that are important to us.
Rachel and Kiri stand on a stage in sparkly capes and heels with their hands on their hips
Leeds was technically where we did our first ever date: we did it in the back room of a brewery. Our mate Ross asked us to come and do a live version of podcast, and we were like, “we don't really do that”, but it sold out! We were just popping up to do a little bit of it, but we turned up and he said, “these people are all here for you”. That was the first time we were like, “could this be a thing?”.
Cardiff is important to me because I'm Welsh, but also because it was one of the only places we hadn't sold out when we did our last tour. And I was so personally aggrieved! But it was the first date to sell out on this tour, so I was like, “yes Cardiff, that's what we needed, you've redeemed yourself”! Everyone kept telling us to come to Cardiff and we were like, “never again! Those last ten seats!”

How have you found the last ten years of podcasting?

The words "Rachel Fairburn & Kiri Pritchard McLean All Killa No Filla Live!" in red and white capital letters on a black background
Kiri: It's been amazing. There are certain moments where it really catches us because, when you're self-employed, you're on such a treadmill that sometimes you never take stock and go, “oh my god, two years ago, I would have absolutely—no pun intended—killed someone to have this opportunity”.
Rachel: It's weird because the podcast feels like it's been part of our lives forever, but also like it started last week. It's such a strange thing to have in your life; it feels omnipresent, yet also new.
Kiri: But one of the nice things with there being two of us is that, every now and then, one of us will nudge the other one and go, “isn't this absolutely amazing?”. I think a nice thing about being in a duo is that there's more opportunity to remind yourselves to be proud about what you've achieved.
Catch Kiri and Rachel in the “All Killa No Filla Live” tenth anniversary UK tour, kicking off at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow on March 30. For tickets and more info please visit allkillanofilla.com
Banner photo: Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean bring us their All Killa No Filla Live tenth anniversary UK tour (credit: Drew Forsyth)
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