Abuse, fistfights and tattooed titties--welcome to the Drunken Spelling Bee.
"Get your tattooed titties off my stage!" roars the host. The contestant's outraged husband storms the stage, screaming. Wrestling ensues. Drinks spill. A face is slapped. The Ron Jeremy-lookalike DJ strips. The crowd goes crazy.
Welcome to the first 15 minutes of the first-ever Philadelphian Drunken Spelling Bee--a real-life event at Bob and Barbara's hosted by actors playing fictional characters in the independent mockumentary The 5th Annual Underground Drunken Spelling Bee (premiering this week at the Philadelphia Film Festival). Confused? You will be.
Think Wing Bowl with spelling. Competitors are breathalyzed between rounds to make sure they're drunk enough, and the winner gets a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon every week they remain champion.
In 2006 the fictional heroine of Akeelah and the Bee proved competitive spelling isn't just for home-schooled social inadequates.
Say hello to Gregg and Marsha Parker, the close-knit fictional couple who star in Drunken Spelling Bee (and host the drunken spelling bee designed to promote the film). They like drinking. And spelling. And they're about to undo all Akeelah's good work and then some.
The crew at Philadelphia's Uncut Productions, who directed and produced the film, are bringing the Drunken Spelling Bee to Bob and Barbara's again this week, despite the fight that ensued the first time.
"I kept telling her the word was 'intercept,' and she kept saying 'intercepted,'" explains Marsha Parker in her ditzy Southern drawl. "She was asked to leave repeatedly but was having none of it, so Gregg kindly asked her to get her tattooed titties off the stage. Suddenly I see this hobbit-like man with his hands around my husband's neck, flipping his cookie, yelling, 'My wife! My wife!'"
Director Jena Serbu was pleased with the event: "I thought it was amazing. Absolute chaos."
What can attendees expect in round two?
The stage has been moved to improve sound quality, which is a good thing because understanding the hosts' heavy accents can be a challenge--when they're not mispronouncing words altogether.
In the first DSB Gregg Parker asked a man to spell "epitome," pronouncing it phonetically. The speller was too inebriated to correct his inept host, despite help from the screaming crowd.
A safety barrier has been placed between the contestants and the stage, which Parker greatly appreciates. "Add the power of the written word to all that alcohol--this is a dangerous business," he says.
And this time judges will replace the breathalyzer, administering field sobriety tests to all contestants.
So practice with friends, your local bartender, a college prof with loose morals maybe. Drunken Spelling Bee is back and better than ever.
Mon., April 9, 9pm. Free. Bob and Barbara's, 1509 South St. 215.545.4511.www.uncutproductions.org
Rules of the Game
>> Penalty words are added whenever a player leaves to vomit.