April 14, 2010 — The stars were out in the City of Angels for LA's second-ever Literary Death Match, as a packed The Mountain Bar saw 826LA rep and Deadliest Catch senior story producer J. Ryan Stradal narrowly out-wadded-paper-toss performance poet Mindy Nettifee (The Drums Inside Your Chest rep) in a wild game of Pitch Your Script! Stradal won 2-0, but the score was way closer than that final result would indicate.
But before any paper had been heaved, the night began with co-hosts Todd Zuniga and Sabrina Howells introducing a stellar first round that saw Stradal going story-to-story with comedian Corey Podell (of Big Boss Comedy). Stradal led off with a story filled with smartly-delivered ironic beer cozy barbs before Podell stepped up and told a morality tale of a man who defecated in her bed.
The mic was then handed over to the night's epic lineup of all-star judges: actor/playwright/poet James Morrison (Private Practice, 24), Weezer bassist Scott Shriner, and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O'Brian from 24). Morrison reeled off with a string of non-sequiturs that had the crowd in titters (including a lesser-known Einstein quote directed to Podell's piece: "Imagination is more important than roughage," Shriner was next, and about Stradal he said: "my favorite thing was that the paper you were reading from was perfect — there wasn't a wrinkle or a fold", and finally Rajskub on Stradal: "I felt like I was listening to a pie chart or a graph...but in a fun way."
After a painful deliberation, the split judges chose Stradal to advance.
Then came round two, which saw i'm boy crazy mastermind Alexi Wasser against Nettifee. Wasser led off with a story that featured a makeout session with a grotesquely homerun finish, then Nettifee stepped up with a quietly performed poem that arrested the audience's attention, a marvelous work that asked everyone to raise their glass to a more brilliant life.
Again the mic was turned over to the judges, with Scott Shriner saying of Wasser, "I appreciate your height, and your hands," and of Nettifee, Morrison was inspired to speak of his visits to the houses of Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, then Rajskub said, "I felt like I was at church, but in a good way."
Again the judges were torn, but after a long discussion, elected Nettifee as the night's second finalist.
Then came a wild finale that featured Stradal and Nettifee firing "manuscript pitches" through holes cut into pictures of famous book-to-film-to-Oscar directors Kathryn Bigelow, the Coen Brothers and Peter Jackson. The goal was to be the first to score twice, and after an excruciating number of misses by both contestants, Stradal caught fire in a hot instant, scoring victory by tossing a wadded paper ball through Bigelow's cut out award trophy, and then through the gaping gob of Peter Jackson, giving him a 2-0 win, the Literary Death Match crown, and literary immortality.
Pictures to come shortly...