June 26, 2012 – in the first return since March to its London home, Concrete, Literary Death Match sported yet more great writers, hilarious judges and outrageous behaviour. Presented by LDM creator Todd Zuniga and LDM London uber-producer Suzanne Azzopardi, it was deservingly won by Jonathan Lee in a tense showdown with Emily Midorikawa.
The night began with novelist Benjamin Wood going up against short storyist Midorikawa. Acting as his own warm-up act, Wood read a limerick of his own composition (which proved a success) before going on to read an Oxford-set passage from his novel The Bellwether Revivals. Midorikawa (reading from a nostalgia-provoking red homework folder) delivered a witty tale of office jealousy which teasingly refused to disclose its secrets, and which was reminiscent of deadpan comic genius Magnus Mills.
Then it was time for the duo to be judged. In charge of Literary Merit, Katy Guest, literary editor of the Independent on Sunday, praised Wood for his bravery in bringing a limerick into the competition. Judging performance, Dr Brown re-enacted Wood's reading, exposing that although apparently quiet and sensitive, with the steady rhythm of his voice Mr. Wood was in fact showing that he was a thrusting literary love-machine. The Mighty Boosh’s Rich Fulcher also noted that Wood's reading style was reminiscent of the way that he himself masturbated. In analysing Midorikawa’s performance, Guest called her story a cross between Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End and The Last of the Summer Wine, Dr Brown praised everyone’s arse and Fulcher revealed that as an American he could not listen to a story set in a quiet office without expecting someone to come in any second with a pump-action shotgun and paint the wall with brains. The judges conferred, and Midorikawa was through.
After a short bathroom-and-bar break for all, Todd and Suzanne were back on stage, with Polly Courtney (widely admired in writing circles for publicly rebuking her publishers and the dumbed-down cover art they gave her novel) reading a slice of lad-mag satire fromIt’s a Man’s World, followed by Lee with a sex and guilt-drenched extract from his new novel Joy. Guest praised the ‘horribly believable scenario’ of Courtney's fiction, in which idiotic male journalists leered over the naked forms of their readers’ girlfriends. Doctor Brown, however, could not express himself in words and instead gave his feedback in the form of a slow and raunchy lap dance, culminating with him rubbing Courtney's face into his naked chest, in what was at the same time a hilarious spectacle and a harrowing episode of sexual harassment. After this Fulcher quietly noted that the phrase ‘my latest novel’ meant that Courtney had written others, before relapsing into an erotic torpor.
Lee fared scarcely better at the hands of the judges’ whims. Guest nominated him for the Bad Sex Award for use of the bathetic phrases ‘condom going slack’ and ‘disturbing slurp’ while Doctor Brown, happy to disprove a charge of sexism, performed another strip tease before in what must be described as both a Literary Death Match first and last, giving the audience a full-on eyeful of his hirsute backside and having one of his sandals inserted into its crack. Mr Fulcher complained that he was the only one on the stage not being spanked while, all around, pandemonium ensued. Lightning and thunder smote the heavens, wild horses turned and ate their own tails, and riot police were forced back in waves – but at last Todd and Suzanne gained control of the crowd, forced the judges to decide ... and Lee was through to the finale.
The last round consisted of a game of Author Jumble where Midorikawa and Lee had to disentangle letters against the clock to find famous authors’ names. There was laughter, there was shouting, fingers were pointed and advice was ignored, and when the smoke cleared, Lee was victorious. Humbled and trembling, he was crowned Literary Death Match champion for London Episode 27.
Join us again at Concrete on August 16th which will be both more of the same, and something completely different. Will any of us still be alive by then? Come! Bring a friend! Save yourself! And for God’s sake lock up Dr Brown – won’t someone please think of the children?