PORTLAND — It will take about 40 straight hours of joke-telling and a captive audience for one of Maine’s best-known comedians to set a world record.

Beginning at 7 this morning, Bob Marley will try to break the Guinness World Record for the longest standup comedy performance by an individual.

Marley’s performance, at the Comedy Connection on Portland’s Custom House Wharf, will be monitored closely by Guinness, which has sent an official from Spain to observe. The performance also will be videotaped.

The previous record, 38 hours and six minutes, was set in October 2009 by Lindsay Webb of Australia. That means Marley will have to keep telling jokes until about 11 p.m. Thursday to break Webb’s mark.

At Marley’s request, all proceeds from the event will benefit the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Audience members will be asked to pay $10 an hour to watch; college students will be charged $5 an hour.

“My goal is to get to 25 hours before I start repeating stuff,” Marley said late Tuesday.

Oliver Keithly, who is Marley’s manager and the owner of the Comedy Connection, said Marley will have to conform to Guinness’ rules.

A timekeeper and two witnesses with no connection to Marley must be present.

There must be at least 10 people in the audience – and awake – at all times.

Marley, who will be allowed to sit in a captain’s chair while on stage, can accrue five minutes of break time for every hour he performs.

Keithly is concerned about the size of the audience. “Try rounding up people to sit in the audience from 12 midnight on a work weeknight,” he said. “That is going to present a challenge.”

Staff from the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital plan to help Marley.

Deidre Banks, the hospital’s development coordinator, said several shift workers, including nurses, plan to go to the Comedy Connection at various times of the day to watch Marley.

Over the years, Marley, who has three young children, has been a staunch supporter of the hospital.

“I really think he can do it,” Banks said. “No one I’ve talked to is concerned about him going the full 40 hours. He has great stamina.”

Marley, 43, who lives in Falmouth, said he has spent weeks reviewing material from his 20 comedy albums, as well as material that has never been on them.

He has never performed longer than 2½ hours. He plans to pace himself, telling jokes at a steady, methodical rate.

Guinness regulations allow Marley to repeat jokes after four hours.

“I’m looking forward to doing this and putting Portland on the map,” he said.

After his marathon performance, Marley is scheduled to make an appearance at the Cumberland Fair on Sunday night.

“Bob is probably the hardest working comic I’ve ever met,” Keithly said.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]