Alex Horne has his fingers in many pies. The comic has been performing on the circuit for over a decade but his range of shows and ideas has never failed to grow and diversify, bringing in many different collaborations and influences. He’s also ridiculously likeable which is probably why, when I tried to crowd-source some question ideas, I got responses like ‘ask him why he is so excellent’ and ‘ask him if he could be my husband’.
At present, Horne is involved in several ventures and routines. His own stand-up, which he’ll be regaling us with during the Vodafone Comedy Festival at the end of this month, is his most ‘haphazard and loose’ show. While some of Horne’s shows are characterized by his strict attention to detail and time – ‘7 Years in the Bathroom’ was literally timed to the second – he uses his solo act to take a more relaxed approach to comedy, saying he would love to emulate Dylan Moran’s rambling anecdotes. This ‘waffling’, Horne-centric style of comedy isn’t usually his preferred medium – Horne is more commonly accompanied by an astute PowerPoint presentation, or a collection of jazz musicians in the much-lauded ‘Horne Section’ – but he makes it clear that this is a format that he would like to cultivate over the next year.
His Edinburgh run for this year will be mainly comprised of joint ventures. Firstly he has a two week run with The Horne Section, which Horne runs with his two childhood best friends Ben and Joe (both accomplished jazz musicians) and features a broad range of comedians that for the most part try to improvise and play around with their material while backed by a jazz soundtrack. It attracts big crowds and is a mainstay of the fringe festival but Horne seemed most excited about the 2-day preview that took place last week in Edinburgh: ‘the previews have more of an unpredictable nature and we really don’t know what’s going to come next. We also get the chance to showcase some names that are newer to comedy like Eric Lampere and James Acaster, who I love’.
It’s clear that Alex Horne loves the camaraderie of The Horne Section as well as ‘having people there to celebrate with you or commiserate with you as you come off stage after the show’. His second show is a one night only talk-show-esque performance that he will perform with fellow comedian and long time collaborator Tim Key. The blurb for the show is remarkably vague, citing Simon Amstell as the general type of person they might have on but then mentioning that he’s busy that night. I was a little surprised at its lack of Edinburgh-standard hype material but as Horne pointed out the show has already sold-out, a testament to just how much he and Key are in demand.
Horne’s shows are often wacky but with an edge of real intellect and research, ‘7 Years in the Bathroom’ was as informative as it was humorous and he really appears as a comedian who has done his homework. He and Tim Key toured the Roman towns of Britain in 2006 with their show ‘When in Rome’ and Horne is currently in a bid to ‘become the oldest man in the world’ with his tongue-in-cheek ‘Long Live Alex’ campaign. He claims his main plots to render himself world’s oldest man bounce between ‘mass-murdering everyone around me that is older’ and ‘having a Berocca every day’ but admits that ‘there would be so much admin’ related to the former.
It’s clear how Horne has managed to attain such status on the comedy circuit over the years, using a variety of different performance mediums and dedicating time to meticulously planning shows to create themes and ideas that captivate his audiences. Speaking to him on the phone however, his simple observational comedy and warm, friendly voice makes a more conventional, conversational stand-up routine seem just as appealing as his more thoroughly planned gigs. Alex Horne has got the equation figured out, no matter which variables he’s using.
Words: Emily Carson