Toy to the World -- Laugh Factory sets new world record
Should anyone be wondering, the largest custard cream biscuit in the world is 59 centimeters long, 39 centimeters wide. The smallest Russian nesting doll is 0.31 centimeters in height. The most dogs in costume attire, gathered in one place: 426. Seems there’s a Guinness World Record for nearly everything.
Now the Laugh Factory can join that esteemed group of record-setters. On Wednesday, the Hollywood comedy club made history when it shattered the world record for longest continuous stand-up comedy show –- 50 hours straight -- and collected piles of toys in the process.
The standing record had been set by a New York comedy club, Comic Strip Live, on June 5, 2008. That show’s emcee, William Stephenson, addressed a roomful of cheering, hooting club goers after the event. “We want to not only set the record,” he said, “but we are going to keep it for the rest of time!”
Well, New York: That time is up.
On Wednesday at 4:38 p.m., the Laugh Factory surpassed Comic Strip Live’s record. Per Guinness’ rules, two official witnesses were on hand, as well as two stewards keeping time and log sheets. Comedian Dom Irrera, who was a recurring character on "Seinfeld," was onstage prattling on about his paunchy cousin when the 50th hour arrived. “Dom, we did it!” yelled Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada. Then there was a free round of Champagne for everyone -– the 30-some audience members and the exhausted, bleary-eyed staffers.
The event, which is being streamed live on the club’s website, is a benefit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Entry to the show is free with a toy donation. Walk-ins are welcome to free toys as well, says Masada. More than 150 comics, including Tim Allen, Tom Arnold and Dave Chappelle, have performed sets of varying lengths, the longest so far being Paul Mooney for 1 hour and 10 minutes, and Paul Rodriguez for 1 hour. Jamie Kennedy performed at 2 a.m. early Thursday morning; Dane Cook is expected to perform Thursday afternoon. Masada estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 toys have been collected so far. They’re piled high on and around the stage, as well as in the lobby.
“This year there are people and the economy really hurt them,” Masada says. “They’re behind on rent, they can’t buy toys for their kids. And now I can say ‘go pick out whatever you want.’ And that’s what it’s all about.”
The Laugh Factory has a long history of charity during the holidays. For 32 years it's hosted free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for homeless and underprivileged families, occasionally feeding up to 2,200 people in a day. And it's hosted a toy drive for 25 years during the month of December. But this is the first year the club has taken on the Guinness Book of World Records, a somewhat lofty goal that might have been fueled by urban rivalry.
“New York says they have the best comedy,” Masada says. “We want to prove we have No. 1 comics, and Los Angeles is the greatest city in the world for comedy and entertainment. It is –- and always will be, forever.”
The club isn’t the only one with a competitive spirit. An 18-year-old high school senior, Katinka Holliday, has been sitting in the audience at the Laugh Factory for more than 60 hours. She’s aiming to set the official world record for longest stint as an audience member at a comedy show. She couldn’t be reached for comment, as she was still hunkered down in the front row. But Masada, who describes himself as “burned out,” says she’s still laughing.
-- Deborah Vankin
Top photo: Dom Irrera on stage at the moment the new world record was set. Credit: David Johnson
Middle photo: Sleep deprived Laugh Factory staffers Daron Moore, left, and Cecily Feng. Credit: David Johnson
Bottom photo: Dom Irrera onstage surrounded by toys. Credit: David Johnson