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New Orleans, Ep. 1 

March 26, 2010 — The Big Easy's Literary Death Match debut, teamed with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, was an absolute classic, as Babylon Rolling author Amanda Boyden took home the title by outpacing Arthur Phillips (a five-time Jeopardy! champion and author of The Song Is You) in a Tennessee Williams/Who Dat? finale compilation that had Boyden beating Phillips 13.3 seconds to 20.4. 

But long before the finale, the night kicked off at One Eyed Jacks with Boyden taking on masterful performance poet Chuck Perkins who delivered a varied and brilliant poetic trifecta before Boyden followed by changing rap lyrics, using her contortionist skillset and blending it all with a fantastic narrative. 

The mic was then turned over to the trio of all-star judges, actor/writer Jeremy Lawrence, actress Carol Sutton (Ray, Treme) and cookbook author Kit Wohl. After the three gave levity-based critiques of the opening round pair, they were hard pressed to make what was an obviously tough decision. A few failed games of paper-rock-scissors didn't help, but finally there was consensus: Boyden was the night's first finalist. 

After a brief intermission, the second round began, with Phillips at center stage versus Michael Patrick Welch (author of New Orleans novel The Donkey Show). Phillips was quick and humorous, adorned in a long black leather jacket, toying with the crowd and still coming up well short of the seven-minute time limit. Next up, Welch read from his laptop, first explaining that his pet goat wasn't allowed in, and read a droll goat FAQ that had the audience in stitches. 

Again, the mic was handed to the judges, and again, a tough decision was ahead. But after another lengthy conversation, the judges emerged — deciding it was a fashion decision: black leather jacket v. white suit — and went with Phillips. 

Then came the finale, that first had each author put on a wifebeater T-shirt (Phillips hilariously electing to put it over his leather jacket), then each tasked to: 1. run across the stage and shout "Stella!"; 2. "intercept" a pass and "take it to the house"; 3. put a blue rose in their mouth; 4. Charge across stage and blow a candle out with the rose still in their mouth. Boyden led off, and was all-business, hurrying through at a hasty 13.3 seconds. But Phillips' loafing at the outset, and his Brando-style "Stella..." cost him the time necessary to win. His 20.4 second effort was far from enough, and Amanda Boyden was crowned New Orleans first-ever Literary Death Match champion.

Reader Comments (1)

Was able to attend. Was a great event. Loved it and wish it will return again. (Uber cool to meet Todd also... Been a fan since OPM days back in college.)

Chuck Perkins should have won.

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRonald

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