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Literary ... to the death

When the aptly-titled literary event, Literary Death Match, started back in 2006 at The Back Room on the Lower East Side, the setting wasn’t ideal.

When the aptly-titled literary event, Literary Death Match, started back in 2006 at The Back Room on the Lower East Side, the setting wasn’t ideal.

“The Back Room is possibly the worst-equipped place for a literary event … with sputtering mics and dim lighting for the readers,” Literary Death Match co-creater Todd Zuniga says. But now they’ve moved on in the city and past their boarders — they now have events all over the country, from Austin to San Francisco.

All matchups bring about the courageous in the literary world who can step up to the stage, not only to recite their writing, but act it out by whatever means possible. According to Zuniga, the rules are simple: “The stories must be electric, there must be humor and silliness, and they must be presented in a way that the audience will care about every single story.”

If that doesn’t sound fun enough, Zuniga says where things really get interesting are when they pick their judges. “We always feature a literary merit, performance or an ‘intangibles’ judge [such as] writers, editors, actors, comedians, or the funniest or most interesting person we can find,” he says (Thursday’s judges are editor/writer Donald Breckenridge, writer/performance artist Mike Albo, and The Onion’s Jason Roeder).

His best selection? “U.S. Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano is about as good of an example as I can think of,” Zuniga recounts. “He was a great judge.”

 
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