An unusual spark ignited Georgia Hardstark’s career in 2009. The Woodbridge High alum teamed with friend Alie Ward to create a tongue-in-cheek video about the McNuggetini—a drink made with Chicken McNuggets, barbecue sauce, and vodka. To her surprise, the video went viral, which led to offers from Food Network and Cooking Channel.
You might recognize the 36-year-old from Cooking Channel’s “Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia,” a food and travel series, or as a contributor on the network’s “Unique Sweets.” She and Ward also have appeared on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History” and are hosts of the podcast “Slumber Party with Alie & Georgia,” a gabfest in a pillow fort with guests such as Tony Hale and Giada De Laurentiis.
“I love that this is my job now. My grandmother had a phrase she’d often say, which was ‘Bigger dummies than me…’ and I just thought to myself, ‘Bigger dummies than me have made a career out of something stupid.’ And it worked. I feel like I’ve tricked everyone.”
Hardstark’s smash is “My Favorite Murder,” which she co-hosts with comedian Karen Kilgariff. Launched last year, the true-crime podcast (on the Feral Audio network) climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes comedy charts and is on a national tour of live broadcasts.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the intensely personal crimes that shake your belief in humanity. Even in sanitized Irvine, I knew there was a dark underbelly of society. I still think about Charles Rothenberg setting fire to his son in a (Buena Park) motel. It really set up the way I view the world, which is always tinged with anxiety and suspicion. I think about the kid a lot, and my heart always breaks for him. That affected me in a way I don’t think any of my personal tragedies ever have.”
“Some people don’t want to talk about murder. And they can judge the people who (are interested in that) pretty harshly. Maybe they think it couldn’t ever happen to them. Whereas people who are into true crime think, ‘This could happen to me.’ We’re not psychopaths; we empathize with the victims.”
Though the primary subject matter is grim, the hosts’ banter, irreverence—episodes end with the sign-off “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered”—and discussions about their personal lives make the show fun and lively.
“I’m an over-sharer. I grew up in the age of blogs. But the stuff I reveal isn’t anything I wouldn’t tell someone over a drink. With both of my podcasts, we’ve been through so much—engagements, breakups, marriages, TV shows, therapy. The response we’ve gotten has been incredible. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll cry.”
More from Georgia here.