World records could fall during show at The Strand Saturday in Zelienople |
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Johnathan Burns, left, and Mark Hayward have showcased their considerable skills around the globe and have even been on The David Letterman Show where their unique brand of skill, comedy and entertainment wowwed the longtime talk show host. Bobby Kintz | For the Cranberry Journal

There’s going to be some seriously, scientifically funny stuff happening at The Strand in Zelienople on March 16 where the performers of Stunt Lab will be conducting a variety of comedic, yet somewhat real, lab experiments.

The show features fictional scientists Mark Hayward and Jonathan Burns in their on-stage science lab, where the pair will “test” a variety of tricks and skills for the audience, with every performance attempting to officially break a Guinness World Record, according to Hayward.

And that’s no joke, as Hayward said they actually have approval from the well-known Guinness organization to try and break the records. They choose their odd feats from ones that already are listed in the infamous book.

“We did not come up with these records. These already existed,” he said.

Hayward and Burns are both individual variety arts performers who started the show only about a year ago after a producer they both knew suggested the friends work with one another on a skit. They both have been performing in New York City venues for years, and have added Stunt Lab onto their list.

Both solo artists, Hayward, 40, has been performing for approximately 20 years as a professional yo-yo man and juggler.

Originally from Madison, Wis., he received a yo-yo in his Christmas stocking one year while he was in high school and he and a friend eventually started a juggling club. Hayward said though it did take some years to perfect his skills, he is now a World Yo-Yo Champion, a member of a world champion juggling team and a Spintop champion.

Burns’ solo performances feature comedy and stunts, and he is also a contortionist, something he said may be somewhat related to his dad being a former trampoline gymnast.

Originally from Johnstown, Pa., Burns, 31, now lives in Lancaster and has performed at more than 200 colleges and festivals in 37 states in the United States as well as abroad in Europe, New Zealand, and China.

“It doesn’t feel like work because you have fun doing it,” said Burns.

For Stunt Lab, the “scientists” also like to interact with the audience during the show. Burns said it can even be somewhat educational, as they’ll show tricks audience members can learn.

“We teach some tricks you can do at home. Some of them you might try at a party. Some of them you wouldn’t,” he said.

For the show, they plan on using a trick that involves a unique way of lighting a book of matches, one they had the opportunity to perform on the David Letterman Show, said Hayward, who now lives in Pittsburgh.

The show is definitely not just geared to kids but for the whole family. In fact, they like get help from all ages of their audience — from children to those old enough to be grandparents, he said.

“It would be great to see all three generations there,” said Hayward.

Burns also said the jokes fit every age.

“It’s one of those shows that have a wide range of fans and it’s a great one to bring the family to.”

Though they have not decided which Guinness records they’ll try to break at the show, they try to choose some of the funniest or oddest.

One year, they attempted to break the fastest time for a person to pass through a toilet seat three times, which they succeeded at 22.8 seconds, Hayward said.

And for those who are hoping to become yo-yo champions themselves, Hayward and Burns are giving them a chance to test out their skills at an “old-fashioned yo-yo contest” earlier that day, Hayward said.

Rain or shine at 2 p.m. two winners will be announced, one for throwing the longest “sleeper,” and one for doing the most inside loops. Hayward said each winner will get two tickets to the show and a fancy yo-yo.

He said anyone can participate, “even kids who have never touched a yo-yo in their lives.”

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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