Four years ago, Toronto comedian Pat Thornton was drunkenly dared to do stand up for 24 consecutive hours at The Comedy Bar to raise money for The Stephen Lewis Foundation. So he did. The show ended up raising thousands of dollars and, because of its first success, has since become an annual tradition that has brought out some of Toronto’s best local comedians to help. The show has raised more money each year to fight the AIDS pandemic and this year, in the hopes of raising $24,000, the show was being live streamed online.
Since we like jokes, charity events and sending our interns out to test their mental and physical limits, we decided to ask our man Brad to check out the show. All 24 hours of it. Here’s his delirium filled account of the event.
The night before arriving at The Comedy Bar, I’d gone out to a birthday party and drank a lot, I didn’t get much sleep before getting up to work, but I did grab a quick nap that afternoon before showing up to The Comedy Bar at 8:00pm. Starting out, I was already awake for about 10 hours and hungover. I grabbed a beer to calm my hangover before sitting down in the windowless, mostly black basement room that is The Comedy Bar. When Pat was introduced, he walked out, took the microphone and said, “You ever have a dirty butt?” It would set the tone for the next 24 hours.
The setup was simple: there was a metal bowl next to Pat in which anybody could put a joke, which he would read. There was also a small group of writers in the room, mostly comedians who frequent The Comedy Bar, whose job it was to keep the bowl full. The rules of the show were laid out quickly: There was a fictional place called “The Woods” where any character or subject that Pat didn’t like would be put. John Stamos was always in the woods. There were certain characters that had already been established from previous years like Kevin Sorbo, who loved eating garbage. Almost every joke would involve a character who would say something and sign the joke at the end. For example, one joke that killed early on was, “Riddle me this: How do you get out of the friend zone with a girl? -Shitty The Riddler.”
By the time libraries were put in the woods and ‘Lil Biden and Big Obama were literally shitting on Guy Fieri, I started to see this one weaving, intricate inside joke unfold. A lot more people were coming in the room and Pat seemed strong, all the jokes were landing.
By the fourth hour, the room started to fill up and the joke bowl was almost brimming over. By now our imaginary joke universe included a teenage skeleton, a mid-life crisis unicorn, a deadbeat Uncle named Ron and a movie called Godzilla vs. Mega-Queef. Someone donated $100 on the condition that Pat make jokes about how wine sucks, during which the best joke was, “Grapes smooshed by your feet? Fuck off. -Everyone.”
My girlfriend texted me and told me that she could see me on the live online feed, which made me feel weird.
Just after midnight I noticed that everything was getting a little less funny. My face hurt from smiling, I was hungry, and my throat was starting to get sore. The room was packed. With people standing in the back and people sitting on the floor in the front it became hot and hard to breathe. Pat seemed to be losing steam a little but quickly regained his confidence after opening a joke that was just a photo of two people fucking taped inside a folded piece of paper.
The crowd was at it’s drunkest and the jokes were getting dumber but still funny. Some of the writers were already beginning to yawn and look visibly tired, though we were still only starting out. Some of the best jokes at this point involved rejected Star Trek: The Next Generation script pitches, Frasier vs. Predator, Danko Jones and a horse detective.
Everything was getting less funny. I was tired of laughing and my ass hurt. At this point Pat was just reading the jokes from the paper, not putting much behind it, losing steam. He said, after reading a joke about a Sassy Rat, “I don’t know what I’m reading right now.”
The room had thinned out dramatically, there was a girl asleep in the audience, the bar staff was leaving and I wanted to nap. After reading a joke about the month of Poovember, Pat sighed and said, “We’ve hit the other side, guys.” He then decided to take his first break of the night to have some quick food and use the bathroom. Somehow, a dance party broke out.
Re-energized, Pat returned looking strong. He started loosening up a little - probably from early signs of exhaustion - and breezed through jokes about rejected X-Men, a new character called Dr. Fuck and Captain Gord who kept getting noticeable boners. Everyone else seemed pretty tired though and there wasn’t a lot of laughing.
Things started to get a little weird. I realized that I’d been in a black room listening to an exhausted man say things like, “Pube train with poo wheels,” for almost twelve hours. I could hear the drone of the heating system between jokes. Some people were laughing uncontrollably and it all seemed a little mad. I took a break to eat and found this sleepy fella and I was jealous.
When I came back in the room, Pat was in the middle of saying, “Meat sweats, shower tears, Mom bra, can’t fight, copyright law, weird stain, heart condition Thomas.” I had no idea what he was talking about.
At some point before the sun came up I felt like we were all doing something important. The dozen of us who were left were in this together and there was an intimacy throughout the room. It was beautiful. It was probably delirium setting in. Then a joke was told that established that Jann Arden couldn’t stop eating eggs and it was making her sleepy and things got sillier.
The worst jokes were killing in the early morning hours. Pat read a joke that said, “Joanie loves Chach-pubes,” and we laughed like it was the funniest joke yet.
People started coming back into the bar, mostly parents walking their babies in strollers and people on their way to work. A pretty lengthy joke that wasn’t very funny was read and no one laughed. Pat said, “Who cares, we’re here all day.” In my notebook I wrote: “Everything feels like a one-liner in a dark room forever.”
A man came with a couple children so all the jokes about Mega-Queef and Captain Gord’s boners were skimmed over for a while. One of the kids submitted a joke, though, that said, “If you put your hand in the Invisible Man’s mouth, does your hand turn invisible?” It killed.
Everything started to feel normal again. There were a lot more people coming in, we recapped what had happened so far and decided to take another quick break. Again, a dance party broke out.
A friend of mine texted me to say, “Are you still there? I would have killed myself by now.” Surprisingly, I don’t feel like killing myself. And, surprisingly, everything is still funny.
My mood kept swinging from sad to happy, dramatically, for the next few hours. I felt like passing out, but then I would start to laugh uncontrollably and feel shaky from coffee. Half of the room was bright and sunny, while the other few who had been there for the duration of the event looked worn out. Especially the writers.
There isn’t much to say about the last few hours. Time was irrelevant. There were a lot of jokes about Jann Arden eating eggs. The Walking Dead became The Walking Pubes and whole plot lines were described using pubes instead of zombies. A group was formed called Poo Club where the first rule of Poo Club is to poo and the second rule of Poo Club is to poo.
Pat reached the goal of raising $24,000 and the now nearly full room broke out into cheers. For the next two hours Pat relaxed, sat in a chair and read through jokes. He seemed pretty beat and delirious and happy and was just cruising to the end.
Some took the last hours to doze off into sleep.
Fittingly, the last joke of the night ended up being, “What’s the point? -Shitty The Riddler.” Then the music came on, brooms came out and the room was cleared of the piles of discarded jokes scattered everywhere on the floor. After that I ended up working at a bar until 2:00am and then slept for a full day, dreaming about creepy Uncle Ron, a weird goblin and a teenage skeleton.