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updated: 8/21/2014 5:54 AM

World's fastest clapper hails from Arlington Heights

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  • Video: World's Fastest Clapper

  • Bryan Bednarek, who lives in Arlington Heights, holds the world record for fastest clapper.

       Bryan Bednarek, who lives in Arlington Heights, holds the world record for fastest clapper.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Bednarek's record stands at 804 claps a minute, but he's inviting challengers.

       Bednarek's record stands at 804 claps a minute, but he's inviting challengers.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • "It's something I can't not do," Bednarek says of his speedy applause. "I always thought of it as more of a bad habit than anything else."

      "It's something I can't not do," Bednarek says of his speedy applause. "I always thought of it as more of a bad habit than anything else."
    Courtesy of Rob Scallon

  • Bryan Bednarek hired two audio engineers and two timekeepers to claim a spot in the Guinness record books.

      Bryan Bednarek hired two audio engineers and two timekeepers to claim a spot in the Guinness record books.
    Courtesy of Rob Scallon

 
 

Bryan Bednarek calls it his bad habit.

He likes to clap, everywhere. In his car, his Arlington Heights home and even the secluded corners of his workplace: the public library.

This isn't the mild-mannered applause after Rory McIlroy sinks a putt at Augusta.

This is supersonic clapping, the kind that puts Bednarek in a status all his own.

The recent Harper College graduate is the fastest clapper ever -- yes, there's a Guinness world record for that. And the 23-year-old broke it in February in an Arlington Heights studio with 804 claps in a single minute.

And while he's basking in the spotlight surrounding his head-scratching clapping -- Bednarek has a special technique -- he's also eager for someone to challenge his record. In short, he wants a clap-off.

"For one reason or another, everybody's laughing," Bednarek said. "Whether they're laughing at me, for me or with me, they're enjoying it. I just want somebody else to have that."

Surfing through his email, Bednarek came across a news alert about Kent French, who set the previous record with 721 claps in one minute in 2003.

"I wonder if he claps like me?" Bednarek remembers. "Sure enough, he did."

A shy, "angsty" teen then, Bednarek would wait years to make a serious run at French's feat. But even before that, his clapping was in high demand.

His buddy, Rob Scallon, is a "professional YouTuber" who earns his income off advertising and licensing fees tied to the videos posted on the musician's channel. Scallon commissioned Bednarek for a cover of "The Final Countdown," the "awesome and/or awful '80s song." Bednarek, naturally, snagged the clap solo.

After the novelty of that video, his friends began pressuring him to go after the world record.

Fresh off some endurance training, his first attempt had Bednarek in Scallon's basement with his friend keeping time on an iPhone stopwatch in 2013.

"It was incredibly tedious to get that video," Scallon said.

Bednarek managed 802 claps in one minute. The video went viral (garnering nearly 1.5 million views, so far), but the clapping wasn't Guinness-approved.

Bednarek would need to follow a slew of rules to stake his claim in the record books. He tapped two audio engineers and two timekeepers and parked in front of a microphone in a soundproof recording studio at Energy Command Studios.

The team would spend about five hours that February afternoon pouring over video and audio of Bednarek's clapping.

To count legitimate claps -- and guarantee Bednarek wasn't simply brushing his hands together -- the group used audio editing software. Each clap's sound wave produced a peak displayed on a computer screen.

That documentary evidence convinced Guinness in June.

The Rolling Meadows High School alum credits his sense of rhythm to years of playing in bands and mixing his own audio, gigs that paved the way to his job navigating patrons through five studios at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

"I try my best not to tense up in the neck and not to express it too much on my face because it's all just wasted energy," Bednarek said. "I really have to focus just to keep the energy in my chest and my arms."

His frenetic clapping has landed him interviews with a Japanese public television station, a Toronto radio station and "Good Morning America." He has no grand schemes to continue clapping, save for more YouTube videos. Death metal covers featuring Bednarek clapping along to a snare drum are in the works.

"We are obligated to put that on the Internet," Scallon said.

Bednarek, who plans on pursuing his bachelor's degree at Elmhurst College in January, invites challengers to film their own clap-heavy videos. Bednarek, though, never flinches when it comes to clapping.

"If it can be done, I can do it, and I can do it well," Bednarek said. "It's just having the self-efficacy and the confidence to accomplish anything."

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