The Ultimate Bizarro Showdown (Or the Silliest Most Stupid Thing I’ve Ever Done)
by J. W. Wargo
Every year at BizarroCon on Saturday night, the wildest, most insane three hours of weirdness takes place in the Grand Ballroom of the Edgefield Hotel. They call it: THE ULTIMATE BIZARRO SHOWDOWN.
I entered my first Showdown in 2009 blind. I had only vague ramblings from then host Jeremy Robert Johnson to go on for what to expect. To make the stress of performing in front a room full of my peers worse, I decided to improvise my performance as an unknown character I created called Cat-Man Lawyer.
Much to my surprise the character and my bit were well received. I didn’t place, but I had so much fun doing it I already knew I’d be returning to compete.
Unlike that first year, for the next two Showdowns I wrote and planned out performances weeks in advance. I wanted to bring something fresh and different to the table every time.
In 2010 I threw the audience a curveball with a dramatic piece, Dual/Duel, concerning a boy and a girl having an argument in which I played both characters pseudo-simultaneously.
In 2011 I collaborated with Omaha artist/poet/musician Eric Robinson to bring the epic Bizarro play of The Pogoman to life, we made a rough draft video earlier in the year and performed it live at the Showdown, adding original live music on a six dollar keyboard and a fight scene involving an actual pogo stick.
(Rough Draft Version of The Pogoman)
This year, I was at a loss for what to do. It had to be crazier, weirder, and, most importantly, more memorable than anything I had done before. I thought about it hard, but the best idea I came up with was getting booed off the stage. I decided, in honor of my first published book, to read the first story I ever wrote, at age six, until the six minute time limit arrived and I was kicked off the stage.
Fast forward to the night before the convention. I found myself sitting around a table at the Lovecraft bar with some other Bizarros for some pre-con partying. I finish telling Jeff Burk about a surprise I have for everyone at the convention and he tells me I should do it for the Showdown. Shit, he’s right! Why hadn’t I thought that before?
The surprise has its origins from before BizarroCon 2009, when discussing things we could do during the convention led to the idea of a Vienna sausage eating contest. I was so excited for the idea I even began training for it that summer.
Unfortunately, it was decided that putting a ton of alcohol in people and then seeing who could eat the most canned meat would be a very bad, vomity idea.
I happened across a DVD of The Worm Eaters, a cult 70s film featuring actual live worm eating, for one dollar at a thrift store in Boise, Idaho. I bought it. I now had the perfect prize for the stupidest contest. I wanted to do it at BizarroCon 2011, but decided I had too much planned for that year. Next year, I told myself.
All the way up to the point when new Showdown host Mykle Hansen called me up to the stage, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen. Were there three people in the audience with stomach enough to compete? I walked up to the microphone and began.
“I’m going to attempt to do this in three minutes,” I started, figuring if I didn’t the audience would boo me off the stage to keep the debacle from continuing. “I’m also going to need three very brave volunteers.”
I gave them each a paper plate animal mask (alligator, elephant, and monkey) and then revealed the surprise. I laid down three towels in front of them and placed a plates of twenty-five sausages on each towel. I told them they had one minute to eat as many as they can, the winner receiving the DVD. I added that being animals, they would have to get down on all fours and eat them without the use of their hands.
Then the three minute mark came and Mykle froze the ordeal. At this point, I had suggested people sitting in the back should move so they could see the silliness, and nearly the whole audience was standing around the stage wearing faces mixed with disgust and joy.
“You have the power to stop this,” Mykle pleaded with the audience. But their persistent gobbling indicated they wanted more. I got so excited I started jumping in the air. It was going to happen.
Vince Kramer kept time. “On the count of three. One… Two… THREE!!!”
“Three… Two… One!” and it was over.
I walked back and forth between three plates of sausage mush. It was close. I couldn’t decide who won. They were all winners in my mind. I asked the audience for help. They were more certain. The applause fell on my alligator, Edmund. He was declared the new BizarroCon Vienna Sausage Eating Champion.
And I pulled it off in six minutes. Barely.
Now I’m stuck wondering what the hell am I going to do to top this next year? Maybe I could go super meta and be a half cat, half pogo stick having sex with a plate of sausages. Whatever I end up doing, it’ll be fun. Only fifty more weeks until the next Showdown. I better start planning now.