SATURDAY! SATURDAY! SATURDAY! At the world-famous OTTOBAR ARENA on Saturday, Sept. 7, titans will clash, faces will melt, and a new-world champion will be crowned. That's right, it's that most ferocious fight in all the world of competitive head-to-head drawing, Super Art Fight! If you have never been to see a Super Art Fight, rectify the situation. Honestly, don't wait for Saturday, Google it right now and watch. Are you back? Was that not fucking awesome?
The Sports landscape in America is in trouble: Kids aren't playing baseball, football makes your brain explode, and rumors have been building that professional wrestling might be rigged. I used to lie awake at night, sobbing into my pillow, wondering how I'd live a life in a world without sport. I mean, beyond just the sadness and the gaping hole in my soul, without sports, there would be no sports columns. How would I live without my City Paper paycheck? I would have to sell my yacht, mortgage the summer home, and when they ask me at Burger King, "Do you want cheese on that?," I'd have to pause and suck the tear back in my eyehole, before replying, "No, thank you. I like my burgers dry, shitty, and devoid of cheese." But Super Art Fight is here to avert all that.
Since being founded in 2008, Super Art Fight has become a national phenomenon, like monster truck races or getting really excited that your town is finally getting Krispy Kreme donuts, but its home is right here in Baltimore, and it truly is the sport of the future (unless you are reading this after SATURDAY! SATURDAY! SATURDAY! In which case, it is the sport of the past, but it will still be a futuristic past sport).
What can you expect from a Super Art Fight? Well, it's all there in the name: art, fighting, and general superness. Contestants face off onstage in front of a live and often insane audience. Two artists-or, in the case of a tag-team bout, two teams of two artists-share one giant sheet of paper and are each given a topic to start drawing. As the concepts grow and spread, the drawings jockey for real estate on the enormous page. Bouts go 25 minutes, and after every five, they're given a new topic from the Wheel of Death.
Two people onstage drawing at each other may not sound like it's got the makings of a good show, but it works and puts in overtime. There's a referee onstage to keep things orderly, but he can only do so much. Artists co-opt one another's images, transforming an ED-209 walking tank to a trout or Luke Skywalker into, honestly, I don't even remember anymore, but it was awesome. Super Art Fight even has elements of a contact sport as artists bump and shift to access the choicest drawing spots, all while pumped on raging video game music and dodging the jabs and one-liners of the hilarious onstage announcers, Marty Day and Ross Nover. (Seriously, these guys are the funniest announcer duo since Dirty Marty and Jimmy Valentine with CCRG Roller Derby, but they are not nearly as good-looking as those two.)
And oh, the pageantry! French maids fight ninjas and Eurotrash sex gods take on Mexican wrestlers while homemade lightsabers slash through the night. Even in the Oakland Colloseum's Black Hole, you'll be hard-pressed to find a dancing Robocop, but at Super Art Fight, the under/over on dancing Robocops is usually at least three.
The best thing about the sport is there's no ambiguity. There's no mucking about with the broken BCS system, wondering what the Ukrainian judge was really thinking, or worrying that Vince McMahon rigged the whole thing (which is why I stopped watching college quidditch). Winners are chosen by audience response, and man, does the audience respond. At my first Super Art Fight, the crowd was easily as invested as one would be in the final two minutes of a Ravens playoff game or the ninth inning of the ALCS. People were going nuts, but unlike in baseball or football, there's none of the bitter psychic residue. When Jim Johnson blows a playoff save or Ben Roethlisberger leads the Steelers on a last-minute game-winning drive at M&T Bank Stadium, I have no choice but to kick the dog or buy a telescope on eBay. (On the upside, the dog is still un-kicked, but on the downside, what the hell am I going to do with a telescope in Hampden?). In Super Art Fight, as intense as the moment is, an hour later, it's gone. It was a great time, and over. There's no weeks worth of moaning on sports talk radio, no columnists (well, just one columnist) dissecting every move and misstep, just the purity and joy of sport.
Saturday night at the Ottobar, Jamie "Angry Zen Master" Noguchi will defend his title against Kelsey "Killer" Wailes and Team Sexifullness will try to hold onto their tag-team belts in a pitched battle with Ashley "Markermancer" Katz and El Russo Rojo. It's bound to be a hell of a good time, and you know there won't be a steroid scandal, but if Natty Boh and too much Mario Brothers are performance enhancers, I'm pretty sure they're all guilty.
Catch columnist and comedian Jim Meyer this Saturday and Sunday night hosting and humorizing a War of 1812 history roundtable at the Creative Alliance before 1814! The Rock Opera.