Can York break a world record? Yeah! says Marco

8 Feb 2013 @ 11.14 am
| Entertainment

He’s the chap who decides what is officially amazing – the top adjudicator at the Guinness World Records. Ahead of the stage show coming to York, Chris Titley talked to Marco Frigatti


Here’s the long and the short of it: Marco Frigatti has seen it all. A man repeatedly climbing through a toilet seat. A man blowing bubbles while a tarantula nestled in his mouth. A man (it does seem to be men) smashing dozens of pig iron bars over his head.

Ordinarily this would be the stuff of a particularly surreal asylum, with Marco (pictured right) the genial governor. And in a way it is – but don’t worry because all this bizarre activity is in the name of breaking records.

As the head of records at Guinness World Records, and chief adjudicator on Sky 1 TV show Guinness World Records Smashed (catchphrase: “Marco, pronto”), Marco gets to decide what is officially amazing.

And the stage show based on the book and TV series comes to York on Friday, February 15. You need to take a deep breath to say the full title – Guinness World Records Officially Amazing Science Live! – and Marco is sure the show is breathtaking in other ways too.

“You take your seat as mere mortals,” he said. “But you could walk out as officially amazing record breakers.”

During the show the audience are invited to try to storm the record books by emitting the loudest scream, using an air bazooka to propel the most liquid nitrogen smoke rings onto a target, and duct tape someone to a wall in the fastest time.

So could York break a record? “Yeah! We hope so. It really depends on how far they want to go. Most of the records we’ve established on the show are new.

“The show only started two weeks ago and there’s room to improve the records established already.”

Marco helped devise the stage version and, although he’s not involved in the production, he has watched a few. It turns out the children behave better than the grown-ups. “There were a few mums who were as or more competitive than their children. They were getting really competitive,” he said.

Many records will be recreated on the night too. Marco reckons its like the best ever science lesson, with important insights into how adjudicators measure the largest soap bubble or the loudest burp.

That’s the thing with world records. More often than not they’re not about the extremes of human skill or endeavour, but deeply absurd.

“There’s a primitive desire of mankind to distance themselves from the rest. It’s a survival instinct, to do something different and go beyond their limits. You can see it in many different arenas, like sport,” said Marco, who received his first Guinness World Records book when growing up in Venice, Italy.

“In Guinness World Records, everybody is able to excel at whatever they’re good at. It could be something like flipping beer mats.”

He travels the globe and is fascinated by which records are popular in what country. The Italians love a food record, like the largest pizza or the fastest slicing of prosciutto.

The Chinese like to set a mass gathering record, where people come together to form an image when seen from above. Germany is keenest on technology records.

“In Britain, record breaking tends to be a little bit unusual. There’s always a comedy element to it. From pulling a bus with your ears – which I think is quite different – to duct-taping a person to a wall.

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“There’s a very long tradition in England of having fun and games. The beer mat flipping is an historic record that’s been going for years and is quite hard to beat.”

(A chap in Nottingham flipped and caught a pile of 112 beermats in 2001. Try that the next time you’re in the Maltings).

No one in the company is allowed to break any records, but if he were free to try anything Marco fancies duct taping someone to a wall the fastest.

One record he would run away from is the longest time spent in a box full of cockroaches. “It’s an initiation ritual people have in many parts of the world,” he said.

“The record-holder sat there for four and a half minutes. He was completely submerged by the cockroaches. I’m not usually squeamish about insects or animals but the cockroaches make a noise and have a distinct smell.”

Marco is making guest appearances on the tour. Diplomatically he says he hopes York will be one of them. “I have never been to York. It’s beautiful and I have always wanted to go.”

Let’s hope if he does, he witnesses a record breaking night.

  • Guinness World Records Officially Amazing Science Live! is at York Barbican on Friday, February 15 at 7.00pm
  • Tickets cost £15
  • For more details and to book tickets go to the Barbican website