PORTLAND — The jokes just kept flowing Thursday night at the Comedy Connection as Bob Marley finished the longest standup comedy performance on record.
For 40 hours over two days, Marley entertained hundreds of people who paid $10 an hour to see one of Maine’s best-known comedians set a Guinness World Record and raise thousands of dollars for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.
At 9:09 p.m. Thursday, Marley passed the previous record, 38 hours and six minutes, set in October 2009 by Lindsay Webb of Australia.
“Listen up, this concludes the first half of my show,” he said after being told that he had the record. The capacity crowd burst into laughter before giving him a standing ovation.
“I feel like I can do another 40 hours,” he said.
He then kept telling jokes until 11:02 p.m., when he reached the 40-hour mark and claimed his framed certificate from Guinness.
“I feel like Forrest Gump right now,” he said. “I think I’m going to go home.”
Marley’s marathon performance began at 7:02 a.m. Wednesday.
Under Guinness regulations, he had to have at least 10 people in the audience at all times — and those people had to be awake. That proved to be a problem only once, when the show opened Wednesday morning with 11 people in the audience.
After that, getting people to come to the club never was an issue, said Oliver Keithly, owner of the Comedy Connection and Marley’s manager.
Keithly said most of the evening shows sold out. On Thursday night, the waiting line spilled out onto Custom House Wharf.
Jim Ward of Portland, a radio show host who was chosen to serve as a witness, sat through Marley’s performance from 1 to 10 a.m. Thursday.
Although the crowd dwindled somewhat after 3 a.m., he said, it never got close to 10 people.
Ward said the only prolonged break he saw Marley take was around 7 a.m. Thursday when the 43-year-old comedian took a 25-minute nap. Under the rules, he accrued five minutes of break time for every hour he performed.
“Watching Bob’s progress last night and then coming back now (Thursday night), his intensity is still there,” Ward said. “I think he has been feeding off the audience’s energy. He has been getting his second, third and fourth wind.”
Thursday’s 6 p.m. show was packed as Marley poked fun at childbirth and the Easter Bunny. “God bless you ladies. The things (obstetricans) do to you, they shouldn’t do to farm animals,” Marley quipped.
At that point, Marley, who looked tired but showed no signs of slowing down, popped a couple of Advils.
That prompted one woman to yell, “Better living through pharmaceuticals.”
“I have no idea what you just said,” Marley replied as the audience burst into laughter.
He segued from poking fun at Halloween trick-or-treating into Easter.
“Easter’s coming, at least it’s here in this book,” Marley said, referring to a playbook he kept on stage to guide him through his performance — Keithly said Marley went 17 hours before he repeated any jokes.
Marley questioned whether there really is an Easter bunny.
“Where does this bunny live?” he asked.
One woman told Marley the bunny lives in a hole.
“He’s creepy. When you go to the mall and look at him, he’s just this big head with eyes that don’t move,” Marley said as he did his best to imitate the Easter bunny.
Just before the announcement that Marley was the new record holder, Carlos Martinez, head of records for Guinness World Records, gave a thumbs-up when Marley asked him if he had the record.
Martinez said he had never seen such an organized record-breaking effort.
“They have three log books, four witnesses, and it is even being broadcast on Sirius radio,” Martinez said. “There is plenty of evidence to support Bob’s attempt.”
In addition, the club videotaped the entire performance.
Audience members were impressed with Marley’s ability to keep them laughing.
“He was just phenomenal for having been awake for 35 hours,” said Joe Dunbar of Portland, who watched the 6 p.m. performance. “Bob Marley is an icon in Maine comedy.”
Colleen Adams of Auburn came to see Marley after getting out of work at Idexx in Westbrook.
“I like him because his jokes are all local,” she said. “I get a real kick out of his local jokes, many of which are off the cuff. I can appreciate the ease of how he tells his jokes.”
John Lamb, spokesman for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, said Thursday night that Marley had raised more than $10,000 for the hospital. That total was likely to increase after the proceeds from a couple of the late-night performances were tallied.
“I was never concerned that he had the willpower to do this,” Keithly said, “but that his voice might not hold up.”
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: