Pat Thornton, early in his twenty-four hour stand-up set. Photo by Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda/Torontoist.
For twenty-four straight hours, for the second year in a row, Pat Thornton stood, then sat, in front of an audience at the Comedy Bar, picked up little pieces of paper that people in the crowd had scribbled jokes onto and that people watching streaming video of it all online had submitted there, and then read them. Between Monday, November 15 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, November 16 at 6 p.m., Thornton would raise more than $11,000 as part of The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s A Dare to Remember—and tell several hundred Kevin Sorbo jokes (the Hercules star has since responded). For some reason, Torontoist’s Steve Fisher, Nicole Villeneuve, and David Topping decided it’d be a good idea to try to make it through the whole thing themselves, too. Their extensive notes are below.
6:15 p.m. Pat takes his first batch of jokes from his writing team, who he will increasingly rely on over the course of the twenty-four hours. Rob Ford is the dominant topic to start with. “Rob Ford, you’re in the woods now!”, Pat opines. “In the woods,” for those wondering, is where you will be mercilessly burned (by zingers). STEVE FISHER
6:27 p.m. Pat establishes the ground rules (or lack thereof) for submissions: “People watching online might think we’ll read anything—and they’d be right. If you want to write about a sandwich you like, I will read it, and try to sell it as a joke.” SF
6:38 p.m. Jay Leno and George Lucas have joined Rob Ford in the woods. SF
7:02 p.m. Pat does a solo bank heist sketch, then goes back to submissions from his writing team, from Twitter, and from livestream commentators (the online content is written out and brought up to him). Submissions are basically anonymous. Currently trending: Raven Simone playing a hot Gremlin in a franchise sequel, Luba Goy’s dry genitalia (ew), and burns on marmalade. “Some dude here really hates marmalade; marmalade, welcome to the woods! Guys, keep it up on marmalade.” SF
7:15 p.m. A CBC cameraman, filming onstage, asks Pat if there are any CBC jokes. Yes: “CBC? More like Pee Poo Pee,” “CBC? More Like Corned Beef Committee… I wish,” and “This show has no budget, but CBC has already cut it.” SF
7:23 p.m. More marmalade burns. “Marmalade = jam – dignity,” and “Need bug spray? Try Deep Woods—that’s where the marmalade is!” SF
8:00 p.m. Pat acknowledges that, since many of the best jokes are jokes building on jokes building on jokes, it takes a few minutes to get into the rhythm of the show. “If you’re online and saying ‘What?!’… you’re right.” SF
8:04 p.m. An internet submission scores big laughs: “Rob Ford is doing a shitty job of growing a moustache for Movember, but he’s already exceeding expectations for Chinuary.” This is among the gentlest digs at Toronto’s mayor-elect thus far. SF
9:22 p.m. Pat reads jokes written by first-graders that his girlfriend, a teacher, collected in advance. “Knock knock! Who’s there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Lettuce Robertson, chief of police; we’ve found your son.” Lettuce Robertson will return throughout the rest of the night. SF
Photo by Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda/Torontoist.
9:34 p.m. Variations on the chorus of TLC’s “Waterfalls” have become a hot meme. “Don’t go tasting Whoppers, y’all. Sincerely, Rap Grimace.” SF
9:47 p.m. Another Rap Grimace joke hits huge: “‘Don’t go blaming Biggie Smalls; I started those rap wars!’—Rap Grimace.” SF
10:10 p.m. I arrive to a full, spirited Comedy Bar and spend the next few minutes trying to catch up on the already-established and current-favourite joke themes of Rap Grimace, Luba Goy, Paddington Bear, Wesley Snipes, Kevin Sorbo, and Rob Ford. There is talk of scrambled egg in pants. Never question comedy. NICOLE VILLENEUVE
10:11 p.m. From the booth, where he’s watching online traffic (and the donations tally), Mark Andrada announces that Rap Grimace is a Trending Topic on Twitter. SF
10:14 p.m. I’m here now, too. There are lots of jokes about “Rap Grimace.” (“Rap Grimace’s jokes are purple-lexing.”) Should I leave? I think I should leave. DAVID TOPPING
10:19 p.m. “Yo, Rap Grimace, I’mma let you finish, but Paddington Bear had the sickest raincoat of all time!” SF
10:30 p.m. Glad to be here for the formation of the Tristan/Ryan jokes: Thornton starts reading from a joke book written by an eight-year-old named Ryan called “Fire Joke Book.” It contains brilliance such as “Q: What did I say to the cat? A: I will scratch you,” and “Knock knock. / Who’s there? / Banana / Banana who? / Banana I will eat you.” It is later noted that this book should have probably been called “instructions.” NV
10:34 p.m. Hey, there’s Jerad Gallinger! He used to be a Torontoist contributor; now, he’s tweeting for the whole twenty-four hours for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, where he is currently employed. This Stephen Lewis guy sounds like a real slave-driver. DT
Photo by Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda/Torontoist.
10:48 p.m. There was just a Death of a Salesman joke. (“‘I’m auditioning for Death of a Salesman.’—Hap Grimace.”) I think I was the only one in the room to laugh. Another: “At Zanzibar you find Lap Grimace.” One more: “‘My skin is really itchy’—Burlap Grimace.” DT
10:50 p.m. Pat’s delivery—not to mention stamina!—is a big part of what makes this good. Still, the way the night evolves (or devolves; same thing, at this point) is all about the audience: because the proper way to submit jokes is adding them to the bottom of the pile on stage, and because those jokes don’t then get told for a while later, if you’re writing a joke, you have to anticipate whether it’ll still be funny in ten minutes, and if you’re in the audience, you have to keep recalling earlier jokes to make the newer ones funny. That’s part of why arriving mid-show is so disorienting, but a big part of why staying for so long is more and more worth it. DT
11:16 p.m. “How mad do you think Wesley Snipes would be if we started calling him Wealthy Snipes?” DT
11:00–11:30 p.m. After an announcement that we’re at the five-hour mark and a short applause, sometime in here, Lucy Zilio is introduced as a joke, and a delightful little round, orange mental image in conjured/maintained with the throwaway pun name for Rob Ford, Rob Gourd. Thanks, Toronto! NV
11:40 p.m. One of the best gags of the night, courtesy of local comedian Jon Blair, is a take on the recurring Jay-Z–inspired “99 Problems” joke. It is a list of ninety-nine problems in his daily life. It is genius and ends with “I’m Wesley Snipes.” NV
11:40 p.m. Also on Jon’s list of ninety-nine problems, “Still in ‘friend zone’ with Lauren”; “Transit City looking like a no-go.” DT
12:01 a.m. Six hours in—Pat eats a banana. Sample hot jokes: “When will we start investigating Cheese20 allegations of deliciousness?”, “‘Why do people think I’m creepy?’—Paddington Stare,” and “Nine-Year-Old President doesn’t care about black licorice.” SF
12:10 a.m. Wesley Snipes and Kevin Sorbo are the go-to whipping boys. “If you leave your medicine cabinet unattended, Wesley Snoops,” and “So you mean we’re trapped in here?—Cave-In Sorbo.” SF
12:11 a.m. Hey, “Cave-In Sorbo” was my joke. Audience participation! You’re welcome, Comedy Bar. DT
12:15 a.m. The second joke about George Stroumboulopoulos, who is in the audience (and, to our perfect spying advantage, has inhabited the row in front of ours) and who people have noticed in the audience, is read. Its basis is Kevin Sorbo asking to be introduced to him. (Sidenote: Kid in the Hall Scott Thompson is also here, but there have been no jokes at his expense.) George, the good sport that he is, laughs quietly. Maybe cries inside. NV
12:20 a.m. Pat does a sum-up for the internet audience: Wesley Snipes is broke and has eggs in his pants; Kevin Sorbo is broker, and eats garbage; Nine-Year-Old President, Tristan (a real first-grader, who breaks crayons), and Parmville (Farmville, but the only crop is cheese) are trending memes. The livestream audience has passed five thousand views. SF
12:23 a.m. Scott Thompson just slipped in a joke, but how will we ever know which one it is? DT
12:26 a.m. “‘I’m a French philosopher that no one gets.’—Paddington Voltaire.” SF
12:38 a.m. Pat takes three tries to deliver this joke, he’s laughing so hard: “‘Do you guys take cheques?’—Kevin Sorbo, at the arcade.” SF
1:00 a.m. Kevin Sorbo’s Twitter handle, @ksorbes, is rapidly trending on Twitter. “‘I thought this transfer was good for a full day.’—Kevin Sorbo, late for an audition.” SF
1:45 a.m. There’s a new trending joke meme: a character called Mustard Andrew. “‘Guys! Hot dogs!!’—Mustard Andrew,” and “‘I did it with the candlestick in the study.’—Colonel Mustard Andrew.” SF
2:20 a.m. The most popular Rob Ford meme is that he’s confused about the fundraising idea behind Movember. “Rob Ford will try, he’ll really try, buddy, to buy you Oxycontin on the street for Scorevember”; “Rob Ford fixed all the holes in his shirts for Sewvember”; “Rob Ford accepted Kevin Sorbo’s friend request for Brovember.” After each wrong-vember joke, Pat facepalms, or stomps the mic stand on the stage, then bellows “FOOORRDD!! It’s a MOO-STACHE!!” SF
2:35 a.m. Pat takes his first bathroom break. The writing staff engages in an impromtu dance party in front of the camera for five minutes. SF
3:10 a.m. A lull in joke submissions leads Pat to break out a back-up resource: Snaps!, an insult compilation book. He starts off with “teeth snaps”. SF
3:30 a.m. After a long streak of “Shitty the Riddler” jokes, Pat goes back to Snaps! to read some “hair snaps.” SF
3:38 a.m. Sorbo’s back as a primary punchline: “‘Trust me, that thing they do to imagine a feast in that movie Hook? Doesn’t work.’—Kevin Sorbo.” SF
4 a.m. Pat pushes past his goal of $8,000, working on commission from an online donor, doing a five-minute monologue as Kevin Sorbo. He sets a new goal of $10,000 by the end of the marathon at 6 p.m. SF
4:30 a.m. The burns are pretty much being shared equally by rapper DMX and Kevin Sorbo. “‘Psst, kid! I’m here, behind this bush. C’mere. Look, I’m going to need you to go get me some clothes. Also, some food. Also, some auditions.’—Kevin Sorbo.” SF
4:49 a.m. #Pats24hrs is the #7 trending item on Twitter, worldwide! Also, Pat is still standing; by this time last year, he’d taken a seat on a stool. SF
5 a.m.—8 a.m. Yeah right. SF, NV & DT
8:00 a.m. Online stream. Did I even ever leave or sleep? Are they still just telling Kevin Sorbo jokes? Can’t see the pile of discarded joke papers rustling on stage, but can hear them, and by the sounds of them, would like to jump into them. NV
9:13 a.m. It’s early, and Thornton, standing beside a box of Timbits, says, “I guess I’ll do a riff on Timbit flavours?” He looks sleepy, even through the pixelated USTREAM thing I’m now watching this on. There are still plenty of Kevin Sorbo jokes, though, thank gosh. DT
10:25 a.m. And still:
10:40 a.m. Two little kids are in the audience—relatives of Thornton’s—and for the bit of time they’re in the room, they’re by far the most dedicated, prolific joke-writers. It helps that they eschew the previously agreed-upon ground rules, walking up to the stage and handing their jokes directly to Thornton rather than adding them to the pile. Sometimes on the livestream, you can just see little hands desperately pushing pieces of paper up to Thornton. He sweetly says “thank you” each time. DT
10:46 a.m. Thornton stumbles on a joke, apologizes. “My reading is getting worse, and so is a lot of the writing.” DT
1:25 p.m. Kevin Sorbo jokes are still the hottest thing here, though Eugene Levy, Paul Shaffer, and Chris Tucker have all joined the list of people in the woods. SF
1:35 p.m. The cameraman from CBC is back. He wades through the piles of discarded scraps of paper on the stage to get to Pat, who’s still standing. When he asks Pat about his mental state, Pat replies, “Oh, I have no brain.” SF
3:10 p.m. Pat reads a note handed to him by one of the internet collators. “Guys, I’m being told that we’ve passed $10,000.” Wild cheering and a five-minute dance party ensues. SF
3:15 p.m. “Rob Ford got a fake moustache for Fauxvember.” Pat foregoes the traditional faceplant; “You’re getting closer, Rob!” SF
3:35 p.m. Mark announces that the DM feature on @ksorbes Twitter account has disappeared, leading him to speculate that Sorbo has been watching the live stream. “Hey, Kevin Sorbo—you’ve helped us raise over ten thousand for charity,” Pat solemnly intones. Says writer Inessa Frantowski, who’s been in the room since the start: “How could he be upset? We’ve made him a mythic legend!” SF
Photos by Harry Choi/Torontoist.
3:40 p.m.: Pat finally sits on a stool, ending a twenty-one-and-a-half hour run of standing. The donation tally is now more than $10,500; Pat’s more than doubled last year’s total. “Shitty The Riddler” jokes are trending up again. “‘I’ll give you one guess, and then I’ll just tell you.’—Shitty The Riddler.” SF
4:00 p.m. A new meme has arisen in the final two hours, and her name is Amelia Earfart. “‘Mayday! Mayday! It sprayed in my goggles!’—Amelia Earshart.” SF
4:05 p.m. Pat loses his composure for a minute over the last line of this joke: “‘Ah, but Batman, I still have this umbrella… Oh, shit. I don’t use umbrellas. I’m the puzzle guy!’—Shitty The Riddler.” SF
4:25 p.m. The shitty comic character references are piling up. “‘Slow and steady wins the race.’—Shitty Flash,” and “‘I accept your apology.’—Shitty The Punisher.” SF
5:10 p.m. The “Shitty” meme has expanded to include a diverse range of people and things. “‘Look at my whole face all the time.’—Shitty Wilson from Home Improvement,” “‘Just put it anywhere.’—Shitty Tetris,” and “‘I’m just putting on sweatpants.’—Shitty Lady GaGa.”
5:40 p.m. “Pat, you have twenty minutes to raise $50 and pass $11,000,” says Jared Sales, who’s monitoring the live stream and donation tally. That’s when Pat remembers he had donations on Paypal before he started, tallying exactly $50. “Uh… I have that.” With that, Pat passes $11,000.
5:45 p.m. “Rob Ford bought gardening tools for Hovember.” Pat brings his full voice to shouts of “ROOOBBB,” and then “MOO-STACHE!!” SF
5:50 p.m. A couple of gems in the last few minutes: “‘Sure, touch it.’—Shitty M.C. Hammer,” “‘I found more calendar.’—Shitty Mayans.,” and “‘I just used the crayons like a real kid.’—Shitty Tristan.” SF
5:59:50 p.m. Tuned in just in time at the very end of my work day to see Thornton start to tell a joke about an original song he had just written, only to have the clock run out and the room erupt into applause. TRIUMPHANT. NV
Photo by Harry Choi/Torontoist.
6:00 p.m. “You’re done, Pat,” announces Jared, and Pat quickly leaves the stage. He’s getting picked up at home within the hour to go to the airport and fly to Halifax, where he starts a new writing gig on Wednesday. Before he runs home to finish packing his bags, I quickly ask Thornton how it felt going into the last couple of hours, compared to last year’s.
Photo by Harry Choi/Torontoist.
“Y’know what? We put down a stand mat on the stage,” he says. “Last year, I was sitting down by 9 a.m; I sat down for most of the day. But I stood for more than twenty hours [this time]. I took three bathroom breaks, but yeah, it was easier. I couldn’t believe the difference that the mat made! The one thing I can’t seem to beat in this process is, when things slow down—when the writers slow down—after the first twelve to fifteen hours, I’m absolutely useless. I can’t fill time, my brain is gone; I’m only good for reading.”
“Kevin Sorbo, or Wesley Snipes, if they were to read or hear about this, what would you say to them?”
“Oh, my God… I don’t know what they’d say… we said some really horrible things about some of them, all day, so, y’know, embarrassing! If they were to find out, I’d hope they’d recognize it was all in fun, and for charity.” SF
Introduction by David Topping.