One of the things I really love about WORD Christchurch and its approach to programming is the willingness to do something a bit off the wall or unexpected. Yes, as a festival it has its fair share of panel discussions and author talks but there's also room for events that break the mold a little. And so it was with with Stand up poetry: A Quiz show. The brainchild of comedian/poet/librarian Ray Shipley, it's an undeniably weird idea for a literary festival event - comedy but also poetry but also make it competitive!
Shipley was joined (at a packed out Space Academy) by two teams of willing aiders and abetters in the form of Guy Williams, Eamonn Marra, and Audrey Porne (the comedians) and Nathan Joe, Danielle O'Halloran, and Dominic Hoey (the poets).
This was the very last of the WORD Christchurch events and was entertainingly shambolic in a "last day of school" kind of way. Shipley played quizmaster, reading out questions and assigning points to each team but also to themselves, the audience, "children", and "computers". If this sounds idiosyncratic and anarchic then... well, that would be pretty accurate.
There were several rounds which were sandwiched by readings of the challenge that Shipley had set for all the panelists/contestants, to write them a birthday card message (the show coinciding with Shipley's actual birthday). The funniest of these was Eamonn Marra's which was a corporate greeting card from the hotel he was staying in, addressed to him, but in which he had crossed out all the printed details and added in ones relevant to Shipley.
Rounds consisted of challenges like picking whether a poem was written by a child or teen, or a computer, and making the same choice between jokes by kids and computers. It's actually much harder to pick than you would imagine and the poets and comedians all made merry with the subject matter.
Another round had topics earlier submitted by the audience drawn from a bowl with the teams having to combine them with a randomly selected "genre" of poem or joke. The resulting poems and jokes were hurriedly thrown together and of questionable quality, but all the more fun to roast the opposing team about!
I can't actually remember who won after all this, not that it matters. It was a quiz of two halves and full credit to Shipley, who played a blinder. I feel confident in saying children/computers/the audience/poets/comedians were the winners on the day.
- Photos of Stand up poetry: A quiz show on Flickr
- WORD Christchurch website (for the full programme and info about authors)
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- Read our WORD Christchurch Spring Festival 2020 coverage