The lives of athletes are always somewhat fascinating to learn about — where they came from, how hard they worked to become a champion, or their statistical triumphs. But, sometimes the lives of athletes who are also criminals can be much more exciting.
Have you ever wondered about former Olympian Tim Montgomery and his six-figure money laundering scheme? Or why former MLB outfielder Mel Hall had not one, but two pet mountain lions? What about the meth-fueled downhill spiral of NASCAR’s Jeremy Mayfield?
Well, James Pietragallo and Jimmy Whisman have, and they’ve served those stories up in the form of Crime In Sports, a weekly podcast devoted to the criminal pasts (and consequent presents) of athletes. Delving into the tales of athletes both prominent and obscure, the Phoenix-based comedians give “The Heisman” to the run-of-the-mill true crime podcast, spending the last two years (four, if you count the time between the initial thought and the first episode) covering the brutal, the shameful, and sometimes downright sad legal troubles of everyone from Rae Carruth to Jake “The Snake” Roberts. They’re bringing a brand new case to Laugh Boston on Sunday evening (February 18) for a live installment of their Small Town Murder battery mate.
Pietragallo and Whisman have worked the same Arizona comedy circuit for a few years, but their collaborative history and personal friendship have surprising birth stories, starting in the parking lot of a “sleazy” Phoenix hotel in 2012.
“When you do comedy in Phoenix, you know everyone else who does comedy, that’s just how it works,” Whisman tells Vanyaland during a recent chat. ”There was a drunken Scottsman local comic, who knew both of us for some time, and wanted us to meet each other in the parking lot of this sleazy hotel that James was doing an open mic quite frequently at.”
Pietragallo remembers a few other details of the encounter, like how it was the hotel where the drunken Scottsman in question was sleeping, and how Whisman made a joke about his shoes, which prompted a quippy response from Pietragallo, and the rest was in soon in the record books.
“There was nothing like [Crime in Sports] out there, and it was something I was looking for,” Pietragallo says. “I brought up the idea to Jimmy, because we always wanted to start something together, and we had good banter, so we figured we should give it a shot, and we recorded the first 30 or so episodes from my kitchen table.”
When the duo comes to the city, they won’t be talking Aaron Hernandez, Ugueth Urbina, or Sebastian Telfair — but what they do have in store will surely give Patriots fans something to smile about again in the midst of any lingering Super Bowl devastation.
“The case we have on tap for Boston is about an NFL player not on the Patriots,” Pietragallo adds, “and I know for a fact that Patriots fans hate the team he plays for anyway, so that will definitely help us in terms of laughs and the crowd’s reaction.”