August 11, 2009—The pilot episode of Literary Death Match LA at Cinespace was a diverse showcase that finished with a Hollywood ending, as The Nervous Breakdown's Rich Ferguson out-dueled Hyperion's Joshua Lyon in a stellar gun-fueled match of "Adapted or Original?" Ferguson pulled off the win by a score of 11-9 to become Los Angeles' first Literary Death Match Champion.
But well before the dart-shooting screenwriting-based finale (video to come), the night kicked off with Opium's Todd Zuniga alongside literary agentress Erin Hosier introducing a first round battle between Flatmancrooked's Chris "Whitey" Erickson and Lyon. Erickson led off with a stellar presentation, a notes-free sales pitch aimed at turning your small investment into a mountain of cash, all followed by a wizardly entertaining reading that lasted only a brief spell. Next up was Lyon, the author of Pill Head, who moved quietly through a few pages of his book, in which he was stealing pills from his grandmother.
The judges—The Elegant Variation's Mark Sarvas, Sarah Thyre (Strangers with Candy and author of Dark at the Roots) and Mayne Street's Alison Becker—were faced with a tough decision, but in the end decided to go with Lyon, so that he'd "have a reason to live."
A short intermission followed, then came Round 2, an epic battle that led off with Rich Ferguson's speedily spit out gem about urban legends, a five-minute breath-free rant that was followed with booming applause. Next was hilarious comedienne Melinda Hill, who read her piece—The Handjob Hamlet—in a deadpan, understated, ironic way that left the crowd in stitches.
The judges, picking between two ringers, were once again faced with an impossible task. But after much noisy deliberation Ferguson was selected as the night's second finalist.
Next up: hijinks! Adapted or Original? showcased both Lyon and Ferguson, as they were shown movie posters. Their task? To quickly scribble if the movie was adapted from a book or short story, or if it was an original. To add the LDM twist, they then had the opportunity to fire a Nerf gun at two on-stage volunteers. The first to hit one was given the chance to guess who wrote the original work. The confused duo finally figured out the poorly-explained process, and by that time Ferguson had a commanding 8-4 lead. Lyon rushed back in contention with a flurry of points, but with the score 10-8, and a chance to tie on the line, Lyon couldn't guess the writer of Sideways (adaptation, Rex Pickett), giving Rich Ferguson an insurmountable lead, and the Literary Death Match championship!
A video of the finale below. For more pictures click here.