Today, the Guinness World Records brand is as popular or more than the stygian-dark Irish stout that shares its name. The institution has been forced to create rules against physically dangerous or ethically questionable records as there’s no shortage of people willing to make a fool or a cripple out of themselves to appear in the latest edition. Let’s feed these losers’ pathetic need for attention with this list of ten horrible, unpleasant, or embarrassing world records.
CRAMMING YOURSELF AND YOUR FRIENDS INTO SOMETHING DUMB
Fitting lots of people into an inconveniently small thing has been strangely popular since the college dare fad of the ‘20s, when people who probably should have been saving up money for the Depression were busy swallowing goldfish and stuffing themselves into phone booths.
Phone booths being in short supply nowadays, people have generally switched to little bitty cars like the Mini Cooper. Just grab a bunch of your dumb friends and pile into your smallest car, take a picture, and bam, world record!
Unfortunately this doesn’t take into account just how hot, smelly, and cramp-inducing upwards of six people in a single hatchback can be, AND you’re probably going to be outclassed by professionals months later, as the previous Mini-Cooper-stuffing-record-holders found when a group of gymnasts expertly folded 28 of themselves into one car.
MOST REJECTED MANUSCRIPT
We can understand wanting to make the best of a bad thing, but writer Bill Gordon’s claim for most rejected literary manuscript seems more pathetic than anything else. After receiving 217 rejections from 176 publishers, Gordon decided the best way to promote his book was to officially claim the world record for most-rejected manuscript that was eventually published.
The stunt didn’t really work out for Gordon, who subsequently gave up both writing and publishing. To add insult to injury, he may have been outstripped by determined English political crank Gilbert Young. Young is believed to have received at least 242 rejection notices for his “World Government Crusade” treatise before apparently publishing it under his own name (although nobody can find evidence of publication outside of an old Amazon.com listing).
LONGEST SUSTAINED DIDGERIDOO NOTE
As an attempt to bring fresh blood into the record-setting game, Guinness declared in 2005 that the ninth of November would be “International Guinness World Records Day,” instigating hundreds of bizarre record attempts in categories that hadn’t existed until someone wanted to establish a record in them.
After seven years, even the silliest record attempts had already been established, and so legendary British trash tabloid The Daily Sun ended up sending a reporter to New South Wales in Australia to verify the record-setting didgeridoo performance of 15-year-old Lachlan Phelps. Phelps successfully blew a single bass note on the renowned Aboriginal woodwind for a solid 65.66 seconds.
The event was recorded on video, but since a teenager blowing a single note on a piece of wood for just over a minute was considered boring even by British standards, the official video account of the event edits out almost everything but the introduction and the finale of the didgeridoo accomplishment.
MOST FAILED DRIVING TESTS
While we here at Mandatory are absolutely opposed to the promotion of any sort of racist, sexist, or ageist stereotype, we are still duty-bound to report that the scientifically-determined worst driver in the world is elderly Korean woman Cha Sa-Soon. She took South Korea’s written driver’s license exam 950 times before passing with a 60 out of 100 (and then failed the practical driving test ten times before winning her license).
Ms. Cha (which ironically means “vehicle” in Korean) had a pretty good excuse for her failure to perform—born during the Japanese occupation to a desperately poor farming family, Cha Sa-Soon had only a few years of formal education, enrolling in the fourth grade at age 14 and soon forced to abandon school to raise a family.
Cha began working on her drivers license in 2005, taking the test five days a week for three years before gradually easing back to twice a week, and given that the bus to the driving school only visited her tiny village once every two hours, her driving instructors didn’t have the heart to tell her to give up.
When Ms. Cha finally passed her written and practical driving tests, she was presented with flowers, hugs, and a brand-new Kia Soul, which she hopefully will not be using too often.
LARGEST SMURFS (OR ANYTHING) COLLECTION
When it comes to collecting rare or obscure tchotchkes, there’s a very fine line between “amusing hobby” and “debilitating mental illness.” 45-year-old Stephen Parkes of Nottingham has smurfily smurfed right the smurf across that line, amassing the official largest collection of Smurfs merchandise (over 1100 unique Smurf designs) and admitting that he has paid upwards of $1500 for the rarest and most valuable Smurf figurines.
On the other hand, is there any real difference between Parkes’ Smurf obsession and the insular world of the stamp collector or coin collector or any sort of collector of weird little things that are made valuable by rarity or mistake? Actually, yes, there is at least one real difference, in that no stamp collector has ever covered himself in body paint and lounged shirtless among a bunch of his favorite stamps.
MOST SPIDERS ON YOUR BODY FOR THIRTY SECONDS
In a way, it’s not really that surprising that this world record was proposed and accomplished by an Australian, the world’s most dangerous and insane sub-species of people. Australia features more than any continent’s share of horrifying venomous spiders as well as a great number of people who are willing to expose themselves to dangerous animals for fame and money.
While the 125 Golden Orb spiders that creepy-crawled over Australian youngster Tom Buchanan were not fatally poisonous, they still possessed fangs capable of creating big, painful, swollen infections. Buchanan was chill enough not to incur the wrath of the spider and became a minor celebrity on Australian television for his spider-defying fortitude. However, you can’t help but think that as he was covered with more than a hundred venomous arachnids Tom wasn’t thinking “damn, why couldn’t I have volunteered for chess club or rugby or something that didn’t involve so many spiders?”
LONGEST TIME SPENT LIVING WITH SCORPIONS
Thai woman Kanchana Ketkaew spent 33 days with 5,320 of the nasty little bugs in a 130-square-foot glass room at Pattaya’s Royal Garden Plaza. She received thirteen stings but beat the previous record by one day and nearly 2000 scorpions and officially established scorpion-record-breaking as yet another painful and unpleasant way for Thai women to make money.
WORLD’S DEADLIEST ABS 8
Many people have criticized karate for its impracticality in actual fighting situations compared to jiu-jitsu or other grappling-based disciplines. As a counter-argument, let us present Indian karate practitioner Tahir Hussain and his abs of pure titanium. Hussain may not be able to break out of a clinch or reverse a hold, but as long as a fight consists of breaking 251 wooden planks on each others’ stomachs over a period of 25 minutes, you wouldn’t want anyone else in your corner.
Unlike some other weird physical stunt record-holders, Hussain makes no attempt to hide how painful and unpleasant it is to get slammed in the gut by a piece of wood until it breaks, which makes us wonder whether it was really his idea to attempt this particular record.
WORLD’S STRONGEST NECK AND/OR HARDEST HEAD
Genial hydrant-shaped Englishman John Evans considers himself a strongman, but such a description doesn’t really do justice to the other skills necessary to balance a 352-lb Mini on his head, hands free, for over thirty seconds.
That takes a great deal of balance, finesse, and ability to not care about what might currently be happening to the bones in your spine. Evans maintains a website at (logically enough) Headbalancer.com and sells DVDs, fridge magnets, and his specially-designed padded balancing hat. WARNING: we do not recommend balancing cars on your head in any country without a socialized medical system.
Next: The Most Random 'World's Largest' World Records
MOST WEIGHT LIFTED BY THE EYE SOCKETS
Manjit Singh of Leicestershire may be an even more unique strongman than John Evans, in that he specializes in hauling, lifting, and carrying outrageous weights with just his ears, hair, and eye sockets.
Singh first proved how totally ripped and buff his eye sockets were by lifting a single thirty-pound weight by a hook underneath his right eyeball in July of 2011. Apparently that wasn’t enough to prove his socket-fu to himself as just a year later he managed a dual-socket job, suspending 51 pounds from the two holes in his skull that nobody else would ever have thought of hanging weights from.
Manjit has boasted that numerous doctors have told him that pulling heavy things by his ears, teeth, or eyeballs is a horrible and dangerous idea, to which he allegedly responds “have you ever been in a gym?”