Did You Hear The One About The Scottish Actuary?

The man who holds the world record for telling the most jokes in an hour is not a comedian, but a Scottish actuary. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with the record-holder, Donald MacLeod.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

How many jokes can you tell in an hour? Our next guest told 580. Donald MacLeod - he just broke the Guinness world record most jokes told in an hour. He can't claim the title officially yet, but his taped performance shows him 31 jokes ahead of the current record holder. He joins us on the line from Scotland. Mr. MacLeod, thanks for being with us.

DONALD MACLEOD: Thanks so much for having me.

SIMON: All these jokes and you're not really a comedian.

MACLEOD: That's right. I wouldn't even call myself a part-time comedian. That's actually the first time I've tried standup comedy.

SIMON: What do you do for a living?

MACLEOD: I'm the head actuary at Scottish Friendly, which is a very small life insurance company in Scotland.

SIMON: Who did you tell these jokes to?

MACLEOD: We got a collection of my friends and family down at a local watering hole down in Glasgow called the Park Bar.

SIMON: Did they laugh?

MACLEOD: They kept a heckling to a minimum but they also kept the laughing to a minimum as well.

SIMON: Well, I think they didn't want to get in the way. You know, you might have stopped for laughter.

MACLEOD: That was actually my secret weapon. Previous record holders have had to wait between jokes for the laughter to subside.

SIMON: Well, may we try it?

MACLEOD: OK.

SIMON: We're going to set our clock here in our studio for a minute, OK? Please begin, Mr. MacLeod, in three, two, one...

MACLEOD: Which country and western singer has the worst hearing? Dolly Pardon. Which country and western singer will let you stay at the house? Kenny Lodgers. I spent a whole year trying to get into classical music. It took the Four Seasons. What's the best way to break up a tractor? A John Deere-alator. What do you call a woman with jam on her head? Marge. Doctor, doctor, I can't stop stealing your furniture. Please, take a seat. My new racehorse can only run in the dark. It's a nightmare. Went to Pete Sampras' restaurant yesterday. Served very quickly. I didn't last long walking on hot coals with the Kings of Leon. My salt's on fire. I heard a sad story about dropping a wedding cake. It ended in tiers. I hoped to complete my new spice rack this morning but I couldn't find the thyme. What did Aladdin have with his cup of tea? Jafar cakes. I went to an earthquake restaurant for lunch. The waiters keep moving your plates. Doctor, doctor, my invisibility meds is wearing off. I'll see you shortly. What do you call a man surrounded by beef stock? Stew. Where's the best play in New York to do multiplication? Times Squared.

SIMON: Oh. All right. We let you go a little bit over a minute. Sixteen jokes by my count. Some of them were pretty funny.

MACLEOD: They're all original jokes, I have to say. I don't think they're particularly good, but they don't have to be good. They only have to be quick.

SIMON: This is Donald MacLeod, world record holder for most jokes told in an hour, telling us a few. Thanks so much for being with us, Mr. MacLeod.

MACLEOD: Thank you so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LOVE TO LAUGH")

ED WYNN: (Singing) I love to laugh, proud and long and clear. I love to laugh. It's getting worse every year. The more I laugh, the more I...

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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