March 13, 2009—Literary Death Match, Episode 16: Holy City Zoo Edition was a blurry swim of laughter, a true one of a kind night which ended with stomach-strained glee as legendary comedian Will Durst narrowly out-acceptance-speeched his lovely final round competitor Candy Churilla to take home the LDM’s the highly coveted title.
Debi Durst, a former LDM performance judge and the event’s curator, hand-picked a splendid line-up indeed. Bucky Sinister, a one-time LDM champion kicked off Round 1 with a set of Tao Lin poems that culminated with an unforgettable rendition of A Poem Written By a Bear, in which Sinister somehow turned a bear’s fantasy to ride a moose into a mall--where he would claw humans and later eat the moose--into a hilarious endeavor. Churilla followed suit with a charming reading of John Cheever’s legendary short story Reunion, a piece riddled with Beefeater Gibson’s and a not-so-charming father.
Intangibles judge Trina Robbins confessed that Sinister’s reading had reminded of her of the time she clicked on a YouTube video to see a man being eaten by a bear. The video, she said with a shadow of disappointment, showed no such thing. The judges agonized over their decision, but, “with many reservations,” chose Candy to advance to the final round.
In Round 2, Will Durst , wearing shiny white sneakers and confidently poised on a stool, read Donald Barthleme’s The School, a genius piece where everything--from the plants to the gerbils to the adopted Korean orphan--dies. But in, like, a funny way--especially with Will at the helm. With equal comedic skill and a slew of voices, including a high squeaky-voiced orange and a British (or Welsh?) Slap-a-Wack bar, Paco Romane followed with the opening scenes from George Saunders’ In Persuasion Nation.
Performance Judge Lisa Geduldig commented that, as a lesbian, she hated the part about the penis in the Saunders story, but thought it was pretty funny when it ripped off. Literary Merit Judge, Andrew Leland had some strong expletive-ridden opinions, and finished off with some soothing freestyle hip-hop. After another anguished deliberation, Will Durst was chosen as the night’s second finalist.
Churilla and Durst each had one minute to make an acceptance speech to snare the LDM title. Churilla complimented the audience profusely on their inner and outer beauty, while Durst promised to sell his award, and use the money to save the children with golf lessons. Audience applause elected Will Durst the newest Literary Death Match champion.