Late last month, comedian Alex Horne announced that he is trying to set a world record: to be, one day, the oldest man in the world. He says: “I have been attempting this death-defying feat non-stop for the last 31 years and seven months and although I’m now getting tired, I am still confident that I can keep going.” So what is it about comedians and records? Here’s my very own top 10.
Longest Edinburgh gig: Mark Watson
King of the marathon-comics, Mark Watson holds the record for the longest-ever comedy gig performed at the Edinburgh fringe festival (36 hours), though he never registered in the official world record books. So buoyed was he by his marathon that he proposed to his wife on stage at the end (Fortunately, she said yes).
Punslinger: Tim Vine
In 2004, Tim Vine broke the Guinness world record for the most jokes told in an hour (449). Admittedly many were along the lines of “So I met this gangster who pulls up the back of people’s pants; it was Weggie Kray”, but quite a feat nonetheless. Vine beat the previous record for 362, but in May 2005 Aussie comic Anthony Lehmann beat them both with 549.
Keeping at it part one: Ken Dodd
Dodd earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records in the 1960s for the world’s longest ever joke-telling session (reportedly 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours – that’s 7.14 jokes per minute), in Liverpool. It’s difficult to track down the set’s contents, but the likelihood is that he deployed one of his favourite lines: “You think you can get away, but you can’t, I’ll follow you home and I’ll shout jokes through your letterbox.”
Keeping at it part two: John Martin
Bootle-born comic John Martin smashed the world record for continuous joke-telling in 1993, with an ear-splitting 101 hours and 39 minutes of solid, uninterrupted gags. He has the certificate on his website to prove it; he’s popular on cruise ships, apparently.
Keeping at it part three: Tommy Tiernan
In April 2009 the controversial Irish comedian completed 36 hours and 15 minutes of non-stop standup comedy, I Galway, setting the world record for the longest solo standup show. Nobody left. “Tell us a joke,” heckled one audience member as he received his certificate. “How long have you got?” he replied.
Biggest solo audience: Lee Evans
In 2005, high-octane Lee Evans set the Guinness world record for a solo act when he performed to the biggest comedy audience (10,108) at the Manchester Evening News arena.
Most downloaded: Ricky Gervais
Gervais entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for the most downloaded podcast – an average of 261,670 downloads per episode, right here on guardian.co.uk – for The Ricky Gervais Show. At the time, Gervais said: “Steve and Karl wanted to charge for the podcast. Just a pound, they said. I said no. We’ve had nearly 3m downloads so far.”
Biggest duo: Newman and Baddiel
Comedy duo Rob Newman and David Baddiel played the largest ever standup gig at Wembley arena in 1993 to 12,000 people. This was trumped in March 2010 by the “biggest live standup show in history” in front of a 20,00-strong O2 arena crowd – a Great Ormond Street bash featuring Alan Carr, Jonathan Ross, Bill Bailey, David Mitchell, Michael McIntyre and Omid Djalili. On the night, Ross joked he was going to break the record for getting the most people to shout the word “cunt” at the same time.
Fastest-selling: Michael McIntyre:
With apparent ease, comedian Michael McIntyre pranced his way into the record books with the fastest-selling debut standup DVD (2008) Live and Laughing; the follow-up, Michael McIntyre: Hello Wembley in 2009, was the fastest-selling standup DVD ever.
Getting political: Mark Thomas
The mischief-making agit-comic entered the record books in 2006 when he attended the most number of political demonstrations in 24 hours (20).
Second Life: Jimmy Carr
Of all the world records you’d expect serial news-maker Jimmy Carr to break, this somehow wasn’t one. In 2007 he became the first comedian to perform in cyberspace with his Second Life show. Virtual punters were able to heckle him and his avatar form could respond. It could have been worse: “Got a phonecall today to do a gig at a fire station. Went along. Turned out it was a bloody hoax.”