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How Mysterious Poop at a Lesbian Wedding Became a Podcast Hit

If Karen Whitehouse and Helen McLaughlin have any regrets regarding the mysterious fecal matter left on the floor at their wedding, it’s that the couple didn’t start investigating the case sooner.

“We should have shut down the wedding, turned off the music, and started interrogating suspects right there,” Whitehouse told The Daily Beast over a Zoom call that just happened to coincide with the five-year anniversary of that fateful evening. “We should have not gotten off the boat until there was an answer.”

Lauren Kilby, a longtime friend and guest at the wedding, agrees that they missed a golden opportunity to begin collecting evidence. “We could have sniffed their shoes,” she says. “We could have looked at their underwear. I only wish we had thought about that at the time and not prioritized your wedding.”

That unclaimed excretion would change their lives forever: In November 2020, Whitehouse and McLaughlin released a podcast—aptly titled Who shat on the floor at my wedding?in which they sought to identify the culprit among their friends and family members.

The wedding took place on Aug. 11, 2018 in Amsterdam—where Whitehouse, 37, worked as a marketing producer and McLaughlin, 48, was employed in cybersecurity—and everything seemed to be going smoothly until around 9 p.m., when Whitehouse says she found a poo resembling a “comedy joke shop turd” in the women’s bathroom. The discovery occurred after she delivered her reception speech, and it soon struck Whitehouse that the dung was too far away from the toilet bowl to have been an innocent miss. This had to be intentional, she thought.

When the couple got back home that night, they immediately started poring over suspects from their guest list and debating who among them could have done it, and the idea slowly grew from there. The couple knew the investigation would be ripe for a podcast because, well before they ever started recording, the story began spreading around Amsterdam, and people would chime in with their own theories.

“We were just talking about the shit on the floor. Four hours later, I look across the room and it’s still going—people still trying to guess who it was.”

— Helen McLaughlin

What made the guessing game so enticing, they say, is that the incident took place on a boat, making it an enclosed crime scene. There were no children or dogs present, meaning that the guilty party was someone in their inner circle. “I remember I was at a friend’s house—12 guys, me, and another friend—and we were just talking about the shit on the floor,” McLaughlin says. “Four hours later, I look across the room and it’s still going—people still trying to guess who it was.”

Each installment of the 13-episode series centers on the trio of co-hosts questioning a different loved one who was present that day. Kilby joined the podcast as an amateur “detective” after completing the first module of an online course, and the team found that, for the most part, their friends and family members were willing to go along with the joke.

The suspects ranged from obvious red herrings—like Whitehouse’s own mother—to prime suspect Henk, who curiously camped out in the women’s bathroom for five hours, ordering other people to bring him food there. Some of the accused parties got almost too into it: One created a fake identity for the purposes of throwing them off the scent, while others would send them anonymous letters pretending to have critical information.

“People were definitely messing us around a bit,” says Kilby, 37, whose day job is in advertising. “If we were real police, I’m sure they wouldn’t be doing that kind of thing because we could easily just arrest them and take them down to the station. Put them in jail. Do all those kinds of things.”

WSOTFAMW initially drew a modest audience after its debut, but its popularity belatedly hit a critical mass this summer following a series of viral tweets from listeners who had recently discovered the show.

“I’m four episodes in and I desperately want to join this friendship group,” wrote British comedian Lucy Watson in a July tweet thread. “They have a hoot. Never has there been a more appropriate time to use the word ‘hoot.’”After that post racked up 92,000 likes, the podcast skyrocketed to number one on the iTunes charts in Canada, Ireland, and the couple’s native United Kingdom—where they recently returned to live in London, after residing in the Netherlands for much of the past decade. It also reached the top three in Australia and the United States.

“I don’t think ‘shit’ has been said on morning live TV as much as it has with us.”

— Karen Whitehouse

Seeing the title of their show next to alt-right provocateur Joe Rogan on the podcast charts was unexpected and surreal, and the grassroots success led to even more attention—including a profile in the Amsterdam newspaper and doing the rounds of the A.M. chat show circuit. “It’d be a really serious news segment, talking about some very serious murder or crime, and then we’re like, ‘How are they going to segue to a shit on the floor?’” Whitehouse said. “I don’t think ‘shit’ has been said on morning live TV as much as it has with us.”

But it’s that brazen lack of seriousness that is continuing to draw in fans, with the podcast recently topping three million listens.

Over a Zoom call, Watson said that she was drawn to WSOTFAMW as an often reluctant connoisseur of true-crime podcasts. “Many of them feel really distasteful, and I struggle with that: How are we talking about murderers and we’re having a cocktail?” she said. But because the plot is centered on such a transparently ludicrous crime, listening to this show helped resolve that conundrum: “I was able to satisfy my true crime itch and not feel terrible. I didn’t know that need existed—fun true crime—and it’s exactly what I want in my life.”

Kilby believes the secret to the show’s success is that they’ve unintentionally patented their own genre, which she calls “true non-crime.” “There’s quite a few podcasts in the ‘true crime’ category, but I don’t think there are many where they take something that is so trivial and take it so seriously, really treat it like a proper investigation,” she says. “People liked how invested we were in that, and they were happy to come along the journey with us.”

Another element that has made WSOTFAMW such a bizarrely compelling listen for its growing fandom is how far the podcast team is willing to go in attempting to solve the crime.

To properly interrogate their loved ones, they purchase the same lie-detector test that was used in a Jennifer Lopez movie—a device that, as the co-hosts point out, is only rated at two stars on Google. They collect more information from suspects via SurveyMonkey questionnaires and even consult forensic experts to help them examine the contents of the fecal matter in question. Although the novels of Agatha Christie are often referenced in reviews, the podcast is more of a spiritual cousin of the U.K. series Cunk on Earth, in which actress Diane Morgan pretends to be a clueless documentarian making a history special, much to the apparent befuddlement of the esteemed experts consulted as talking heads.

“I was fascinated by the serious-courtroom-drama-style framing of it, the police-procedural aspect of this ridiculous event. I was amazed at how many suspects and interviews they managed to line up.”

— Livvy Perrett

Livvy Perrett, a part-time theater critic and manager at a men’s membership club in London, said that WSOTFAMW reminded her of the show that got her into podcasts: My Dad Wrote a Porno, in which the host shares an amateur erotic novel written by his father to his awestruck friends.

“This has a very similar vibe to it: Lauren, the detective trying to hold everything together while doing her character, is like Jamie in My Dad Wrote A Porno, with the other ones just giggling away in the background,” she said over Zoom. “I was fascinated by the serious-courtroom-drama-style framing of it, the police-procedural aspect of this ridiculous event. I was amazed at how many suspects and interviews they managed to line up.”

Their commitment to the bit surprised even the creators themselves. Because none of them had ever made a podcast before, it took them a year and a half to record and edit the first seven episodes, and they were figuring it out as they went along. “Every time we had a status meeting, the first five minutes would be: ‘What the hell are we doing? Is this actually happening?’” Kilby told The Daily Beast. “And then Karen would be like, ‘I need to apply for the Freedom of Information Act to understand what submarines have gone through the waters of Amsterdam. We need to convince Helen to come to the zoo.’”

In addition to getting to the bottom of the case, the team behind WSOTFAMW says their goal was to spread a bit of joy during a difficult time. The podcast was recorded during the pandemic—when the world was largely shut down and Kilby had been laid off from her job—and McLaughlin knew personally how much “silly escapism” would mean to people. She envisioned the show as having the vibe of eavesdropping on a hilarious conversation shared by a group of strangers at a pub and momentarily forgetting about anything that might be going wrong in your own life.

“When my mother died, we were traveling around listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno,” she said. “It really took you away from difficult moments. When we did the podcast, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be so awesome if we could do that for one person? That would make it so worthwhile.’”

Fortunately, WSOTFAMW will have the opportunity to offer some levity to many, many more people: It’s being developed into a TV series, and they are hard at work on a second season of the podcast after readers wrote in with their own unsolved mysteries.

Among the more memorable submissions, Whitehouse recalls, was a story about a “shit on a plate with a silver lid on the top, like it was being delivered for room service” discovered at a bachelor party. Another fan wrote in asking them to investigate the chapstick inexplicably found inside her feminine orifice. Despite the influx of requests related to bodily fluids and human anatomy, Kilby says the next edition of the show will explore a “classier crime” involving the “undercover world of detective work.”

The team, however, isn’t ruling out a follow-up to the mystery explored in season one—which (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD) concludes without uncovering the perpetrator’s identity. They have discussed the idea of throwing a 10-year vow renewal for Whitehouse and McLaughlin that also functions as a sting operation: setting up a trap with the help of security cameras, hidden microphones, and DNA testing kits.

“If the shit hadn’t happened, it would just be another wedding that I’ve been to.”

— Lauren Kilby

Whitehouse, personally, remains convinced the offender was the jazz band ensemble member with a surprisingly colorful criminal history. “The entertainer is dodgy as hell, when you listen to where his head space was at,” she said. “The fact that there was a social media post where they joke about a pipe, hash, and two smoking turds, it’s all a bit much for me.”

But while the suspect remains at large, everyone ultimately feels that they wouldn’t change anything about what happened. All in all, their wedding day was a perfect tribute to their whirlwind courtship: When Whitehouse met McLaughlin at a party in 2014, she hadn’t yet realized that she was a lesbian, but she knew she felt drawn to this beguiling stranger. It took a spontaneous road trip to Germany together for Whitehouse to figure out what these feelings were, but they both soon realized they’d found the person they were meant to be with. “We always felt like it was very soul matey,” McLaughlin says. “I went and bought a couple of rings and waited for the right moment.”

Kilby personally believes that, if anything, the mysterious discharge at their nuptials only improved the proceedings. “If the shit hadn’t happened, it would just be another wedding that I’ve been to,” she said. “But that will now be the most memorable wedding I have ever been to—and probably one of the most memorable days of my life.”

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