The Real-Life Lisa Simpson Is Giving Voice To Fascinating True Crime Cases

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First-time listeners of the true crime podcast “Small Town Dicks” might be startled to hear the voice of its host: Lisa Simpson herself, aka Yeardley Smith.

The voice actor famous for “The Simpsons” launched the podcast, which features detectives recounting their most memorable cases, in 2017.

Anchoring the show are three retired “dicks” (a slang term for “detectives” that hearkens back to classic Hollywood film noirs): Dan Grice and his twin brother, Dave Grice — Detectives Dan and Dave to their listeners — and cold case investigator Paul Holes.

Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, records her true crime podcast
Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, records her true crime podcast "Small Town Dicks." Yeardley Smith

Smith and Dan aren’t just podcast partners. The couple got married in 2022, years after their fairytale first meeting. Then a plainclothes detective, Dan provided security for Smith — who had been a victim of stalking — at a “Simpsons” event. He was essentially Kevin Costner to her Whitney Houston in a real-life “The Bodyguard.” Dave, who lives near the couple, is now her brother-in-law.

The concept of “Small Town Dicks,” which is now in its 14th Season and has more than 48 million downloads, “devolved quickly” from its original format, Dan told HuffPost before the group took the stage at CrimeCon last month.

“Initially, the concept of the show was Dan and Dave, talking about true crime and cases that we investigated using gallows humor. And maybe having a couple of fingers of Scotch while we retold the story. We tried it one time, and it devolved quickly. It didn’t feel natural,” he said.

They realized they couldn’t “stand behind” a show that was “irreverent about a case where someone was victimized or murdered,” Dan said. 

“We couldn’t do it. We wanted to be proud of talking about these cases, and give them the gravity and the respect that they deserved.”

Instead, they took a more measured approach, even changing identifying details to protect victims’ privacy. Fans of “Small Town Dicks” say they love the podcast because of the detectives’ unique perspectives and insights, fascinating stories, camaraderie and empathy for the victims — and even the suspects. They are entertaining and make fun of each other, but never the subject matter. 

And Smith, who has no background in law enforcement, took on a key role. She doesn’t hesitate to interrupt the detectives when they use police jargon or other terminology that might puzzle their audience.

“Because I’m such an outsider from law enforcement, I come with a very different kind of basic, perhaps female sort of perspective. I want to know about your heart and your mind,” she said.

“There are things that Dave and I working in law enforcement take for granted,” Dan said. “Yeardley would interrupt us and [ask questions like], ‘Why did you need a search warrant? Why is certain evidence more important than other pieces of evidence?’”

From left: Yeardley Smith, Dan Grice, Dave Grice and Paul Holes record the podcast
From left: Yeardley Smith, Dan Grice, Dave Grice and Paul Holes record the podcast "Small Town Dicks." Yeardley Smith

Holes praises the podcast for its authenticity and humanistic portrayal of law enforcement.

“Too many in the general public look at officers as robocops,” he told HuffPost. “But the hope as they listen to us, they realize we are people just like them, and have made sacrifices to our physical and mental health trying to keep the public safe.”

Critics of “Small Town Dicks” have accused its police-focused format of being “copaganda,” but Smith insists they aren’t there to “cop wash.”

“We’re pretty critical when police deserve some criticism. We don’t hesitate to give it,” Dave said.

“The best thing we can do is just try to authentically and genuinely express our views, and how a case impacted us. And if people take that as us being always pro cop, I would suggest that they probably haven’t heard the library that we’ve put out there,” Dave said.

“All we’re trying to do is give a law enforcement perspective that counters the narrative that is pervasive out there right now that cops are all out there trying to hurt people and violating people’s rights,” Dave said.

“It’s just opposite my experience. Honestly the best men and women I’ve ever met in my life are first responders.”

The detectives said that one of the messages of their podcast is to encourage people to trust their instincts and call the police if they are feeling unsafe.

“It’s really what the police want to do. We really want to go out and deal with the people who are bothering more vulnerable people. That’s why we got into the job. Let’s go catch bad guys,” Dave said.

He added he’s uncomfortable with the attention that’s come from the podcast’s popularity and is still adjusting to having fans. 

“Dan and I purposely got involved in this podcast only mentioning our first names, not mentioning where we worked, because this isn’t about attention. I want the attention to be placed where it should be, which is the case and how it impacted the people that I had contact with. I don’t want it to be where I’m trumpeting my accomplishments. And that’s really not what our podcast is about,” Dave said.

He and his brother have gotten perhaps their most direct spotlight with their CrimeCon panels, which they started last year. Smith gushed about fans’ embrace of her husband and brother-in-law. 

“They lost their fucking minds,” Smith said about the detectives’ fans. “Just gonna say it. It was absolutely fantastic. It was so fun.”

“They really feel like they know Dan and Dave,” she continued. “They respect that they bring so much integrity to these episodes that we record.”