At the End of Pat's 24 Hours
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At the End of Pat’s 24 Hours

Pat Thornton pulls off his third annual 24-hour jokefest for charity.

In the home stretch, Thornton's ankle-deep in Smee jokes.

In the final hours of Pat Thornton’s 24-hour comedy extravaganza, the Comedy Bar’s auditorium smelled like a dorm room after an all-night LAN party—a bouquet of stale, coffee-spiked body odour, and pizza slices, if you want the particulars—and it felt a little like one, too. A revolving collection of spastic, pop culture–themed in-jokes comes off like a series of knowing winks, their ensuing hoots reminiscent of the self-congratulating collective laughter of late-adolescent wisecrackers who also happen to be great buds. This is the charm of the event: the jokes don’t always make much sense on their own, but they become bursts of inappropriate genius once audience members fall into the groupthink.

At the close of the marathon, the pile of joke-submission slips is waist-high at its peak and swallows most of the stage. The room predictably erupts in cheers when Thornton is informed he’s passed the 24-hour mark, and again, several of the comics (some of whom, such as Jon Blair, Sarah Hillier, and Becky Johnson, were present for the entire 24 hours) play in the giant joke mound as they begin to quickly tidy the room for the Sketchfest shows starting in two hours; understandably, the theatre is in shambles.

Speaking with a tired but happy Thornton and others outside Comedy Bar in the fading daylight, we rehash the different memes this year, like the perversely insatiable antics of retired Lloyd Robertson, and the room favourite on Tuesday, Smee the Pirate. Torontoist contributors Jeremy Woodcock and Corbin Smith both recall submitting early Smee variations, but Hillier thinks it was Laugh Sabbath regular Aaron Eves who got the meme really going on Tuesday morning.

“I wanted to introduce a light-hearted character, ’cause the Whoopi Goldberg and Robertson jokes were getting really dark,” says Eves, who was particularly pleased at how Smee was never corrupted for a cheap laugh; he doesn’t remember if his was the first Smee joke, either. And that’s one of the beautiful things about the event—an innocuous third-tier children’s character can provide inspiration for hours upon hours of jokes from a comedy hive.

As for Thornton, exhausted though he might have been at the close of the marathon, he was up again late Tuesday night, as evidenced by a Tweet from his own account:

“Woke up thinking ’bout #Smee.”

UPDATE, 6:24 PM: Event organizers just finished tallying the proceeds from the all-night joke fest. In all, Dare to Remember raised $12, 723.12 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.