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Wednesday
Sep122012

Boston, Ep. 9

September 12, 2012 — Before a jam-packed Club OBERON, Literary Death Match returned to Boston — the perfect kickoff spot for our 7-city/10-day LDM TV Pilot tour (help fund us on Kickstarter!) — and the wild and talent-fueled night ended with Baratunde Thurston out-scoring co-finalist Carissa Halston in a Literary Card Sharks finale, as he pulled out a closer-than-it-seemed 8-4 victory to win the LDM Boston crown. 

But before the deck of literary cards was even a thought, the night's brilliant first round pit Thurston (author of How to Be Black) against Ori Fienberg (a writing instructor for Foundation Year). Fienberg went first, reeling off a sequence of magic-realist gems that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Thurston was next, dazzling with two expertly written/performed pieces from his book — the last of which ended with a wild dance-off between two black men. 

The mic was then handed over to the night's trio of all-star judges: author/singer/LDM champ Elizabeth Searle (Girl Held in Home and librettist of Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera), musician/comedian/performance artist Rob Potylo (featured on VH1‘s Best Week Ever for his single “I Put a Baby In You”), and comedian and “Colorstruck: Women of Color in Comedy” co-founder/producer Bethany Van Delft

The trio unleashed a series of whip-quick witticisms, with Searle charming with her sweet musings, followed by Potylo's brilliant brand of oddballetry, and Van Delft's quietly sharp humor, all of which had the audience in stitches. Following a brief deliberation, they announced that it would be Thurston who would advance as the night's first finalist. 

After a lightly boozy intermission, Round 2 kicked off with Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship-winner Molly Birnbaum up against Literary Firsts host Carissa Halston (author of of A Girl Named Charlie Lester). The two put on a staggering display of heartache, with Birnbaum leading off and reading a painfully vivid excerpt from her book Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way. Next up was Halston, who fired back with a pitch-perfect performance from her traumatic novella The Mere Weight of Words

Again, the mic was handed back to the judges, who once again put on a titter-inducing commentary display that had the audience doubled over. Again, it was an impossible vote, but they made the difficult decision and advanced Halston on as the night's second finalist. 

Then host and LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage, calling up a set of five volunteers and inviting Boston Executive Producer Kirsten Sims to be the dealer in a game of Literary Card Sharks. The rules: a volunteer would flip a card, and the finalist had to guess higher or lower. Thurston led off, snaring 4 points out of the gate, while Halston went bust. Up 4-0, Halston charged back in Round 2, scoring the max possible points to tie it at 4-4. Thurston scored 3 in Round 2, reclaiming the lead, 7-4. For Round 3, it was Halston going first, needing three of a possible three points to have a shot at overtime, but it was not to be, and in the end, the winner was Thurston, who won the Literary Death Match medal, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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    Boston, Ep. 9 - Journal - Literary Death Match
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