Pierre Greene and Elizabeth (Liz) Suman founded the New York City Type-Off™ in the now-defunct Southside Speakeasy, a small dive bar in Brooklyn, New York, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Halloween/November 1st, 2007. Pierre was dressed as Kevin Arnold and Liz was dressed as Carmen Sandiego. They have no recollection of how they met, but they’ve been friends ever since.
After learning of their shared love of great literature and old typewriters, Liz and Pierre decided the world needed a contemporary outlet to pay service to the tradition and beauty that defines the typing arts.
Henceforth, the first Type-Off™ was held a few months later in a tiny East Village walk-up with fifteen people and an antique typewriter from Pierre’s mom’s attic in Queens.
The inaugural New York City Type-Off™ (2008) also included a Cook Off™. In the Cook Off™, one person named Conrad cooked chicken and mashed potatoes with a Polish potato masher. Due to the chaos that ensued that evening, no other Type-Off™ has or (or will ever) include another Cook-Off™.
Due to its increasing popularity each year, the competition has grown to require commercial venues, and 2010 was the last year the Type-Off™ could be accommodated by a residential space.
So, may still be asking, what exactly does the Type-Off™ entail? Each contestant is required to transcribe a pre-selected passage as quickly and accurately as possible on one of our two expertly preserved antique typewriter. The top ten typers compete in a final round and the first place winner receives a cash prize (created from the competitors’ small entry fee).
Pierre and Liz choose the passages each year and the selections are often based on a theme, such as New York City, Shakespeare, failed relationships, springtime and/or a scorned heart. Each typer’s turn is projected live on a wall or video screen (HD since 2010). One year, the entire Type-Off was projected on the side of an East Village building on Avenue B so wayward passerby could be a part of the fun.
In 2010, the Type-Off™ acquired a second typewriter: a beautiful salmon colored Olympia from Grammercy Typewriters, one of the last typewriter shops in the city and also the place where “Mad Men” set typewriters are repaired.
The 2012 Type-Off was held at Klughaus Gallery in Chinatown beneath the Manhattan Bridge and catered by Panade Puffs & Pastries on Eldridge Street.
2008: The winner of the first Type-Off™ was Victor Fung, who is good at everything.
2009: The second year’s winner was a tie between best friends Dave Dalton and Tyler Cordy (This is the first and only year two contestants placed with identical scores).
2010: The third year’s winner was, unsurprisingly, Jessica Fung, Victor Fung’s little sister.
2011: The fourth year’s winner was talented newcomer Michael Barry.
2012: The fifth year’s winner was veteran competitor Simone Polsky.
The New York City Type-Off™ is not to be confused with the German Typography group, “TypeOff.”
The Type-Off™ has been covered by a variety of media outlets including the “Discovery Channel,” “Mass Appeal,” and “Time Out New York.”
NOTE: The Type-Off is NOT just for hipsters; it is for every kind of person and all ages. It is not ironic or made up for attention; it is just for people who like to type, drink and have a good time.
We look forward to seeing you at this year’s competition.
Learn more about the New York City Type-Off on Facebook.