This is not an ordinary Fringe show. Four writers read their own work for five minutes or less, and are then judged by three all-star Judges. Two finalists are chosen to compete in the Literary Death Match finale, a vaguely-literary game to decide the ultimate winner. And there’s of course a different line-up every night.

Host introduces the show

Host introduces the show

This is LDM’s first run at the Edinburgh Fringe, even though it’s been visiting the city for a number of years – and indeed, the event runs internationally across the world. The format is naturally shortened for the Fringe, and the pre-event, and mid-event drinking and socialising is absent. This along with the 4:25 start time, make the atmosphere slightly different – but the fact there’s a bar right across the room from the stage means that regular LDM fans and mid-afternoon drinkers can indulge themselves.

How it all works

The show starts with LDM’s founder, lounge-lizard Todd Zuniga, host of the event, explaining how things work, and introducing the judges, and then the writers.

It’d actually be rather pointless to describe this one particular show, because it’ll never be repeated – so instead, let me anonymise the action.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 2 of 9

Writer 1

Writers 1 and 2 decide who goes first based on the toss of a famous literary insult.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 3 of 9

Writer 2

Writer 1 reads. 4 minutes 23 seconds. Interesting, funny, dramatic.
Writer 2 reads. 4 minutes 7 seconds. Interesting, funny, dramatic.

Judge 1 judges Writer 1. Witty, critical of literary merit.
Judge 2 judges Writer 1. Witty, critical of performance merit.
Judge 3 judges Writer 1. Witty, critical of intangible merit.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 4 of 9

Judges’ critiques

Judge 1 judges Writer 2. Witty, critical of literary merit.
Judge 2 judges Writer 2. Witty, critical of performance merit.
Judge 3 judges Writer 2. Witty, critical of intangible merit.

Judge 1, 2, & 3 confer, while the host regales us with literary tales and more famous insults.

Judges decide Writer 2 goes through to next round. Applause.

Writers 3 and 4 decide who goes first based on the toss of a famous literary insult.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 5 of 9

Writer 3

Writer 3 reads. 4 minutes 19 seconds. Interesting, funny, dramatic.
Writer 4 reads. 4 minutes 33 seconds. Interesting, funny noises, surreal.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 6 of 9

Writer 4

Judge 1 judges Writer 3. Witty, critical of literary merit.
Judge 2 judges Writer 3. Witty, critical of performance merit.
Judge 3 judges Writer 3. Witty, critical of intangible merit.

Judge 1 judges Writer 4. Witty, critical of literary merit.
Judge 2 judges Writer 4. Witty, critical of performance merit.
Judge 3 judges Writer 4. Witty, critical of intangible merit.

Judge 1, 2, & 3 confer, while the host regales us with literary tales and more famous insults.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 7 of 9

Judges conferring

Judges decide Writer 4 goes through to next round. Applause.

Judges are thanked and retire from the stage.

Host explains how next round will work and asks for volunteers from the audience to help Writer 2 and Writer 4. Up they step.

Writer 2 and Writer 4 (or their helpers) have to ring a bell when they recognise the title of a work of literature from a one-star Amazon review of that book, read by the host.

Writer 2 has a good helper and races ahead. Host rigs the next question and makes it worth enough points to equal the scores. So scores are equal going into last question. Tension. Writer 2’s helper does it again and guesses the book correctly.

LDM Photos 23-Aug - 9 of 9

We have a winner

Writer 2 is the winner. Host presents Writer 2 with a broadly tacky but still substantial medallion, and reminds us to call our mothers soon. Game over, everyone heads for the bar upstairs, as the next show is due in.

Next day’s performance: repeat.

Literary Death Match is a witty, fast-paced spectacle with crisp and funny dialogue, great reading performances, and with the great merit of definitely not taking itself too seriously. As well as getting the chance to listen to four new emerging authors, you also get some great critiques from judges who are usually fairly well-known faces in the literary world.

Although the atmosphere is different from the ‘regular show’, with less time to mingle with the performers and audience, it’s still a memorable and hugely entertaining way to spend an hour in the early evening. Check the line-up and get along.

5 Stars

> Click here to book this show now
Aug 23-30 at 16:25
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 (Venue 12)

About David Petherick

David Petherick is the owner and publisher of edinburghfestival.org and was born in, and lives, in Edinburgh. He is a writer, marketer and tweeter and is also "Doctor LinkedIn". Follow @edinburghfest for festival news and updates and @petherick for personal news and views.

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