An Interview with Comedian Alex Horne

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(c) The Horne Section

We catch up with musical comedian Alex Horne to talk about his upcoming show with the Horne Section.

Alex Horne and the Horne Section have been entertaining audiences with their hilariously quirky blend of music and comedy for the past six years, appearing on TV shows Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and BBC Radio 4's Alex Horne Presents The Horne Section. They will soon be performing a one-off gig at Shoreditch Town Hall with special guest Tim Key for a celebratory night of laugh-out-loud musical comedy. We catch up with Alex Horne to talk about the Horne Section's upcoming show, his passion for the sousaphone and his mad table tennis skills.

London Calling: How would you describe Alex Horne and the Horne Section?

Alex Horne: We are a six-headed-jazz-comedy-juggernaut, rolling around the country, spreading our shambolic musical muck across the towns and cities (and occasionally villages).

LC: And how do you think the Horne Section would describe you?

AH: Haughty, unmusical and very, very organised.

LC: Where do you get your comedic inspiration from?

AH: Mainly Ken Dodd, but also my dad who is often hilarious, always unintentionally. My favourite moments in comedy are always the unexpected ones, flashes in a particular room at a particular time that can never be repeated.

LC: How did you come up with the idea to combine music and comedy?

AH: I was a struggling stand-up and my friends were struggling musicians. We figured that combining our struggles would make us stronger (rather than just doubling the amount of struggling). I am yet to know if we were right.

LC: What do you think having a music accompaniment adds to the comedy?

AH: Well, it does mean that if you don’t find the comedy funny there’s something else going on to distract you. The noise can often drown the more disappointing jokes. But it does also give us a rhythmical background that I think, deep down, everyone wants.

LC: Can you play a musical instrument? If not, what do you wish you could play?

AH: “Play” is quite a loaded verb. I can handle a French horn, toot down a trombone and I’m really very good at the vibraslap. But “play”? No. Not really. I’d like to play the sousaphone please. It’s one of the few instruments that you have to wear to play.

LC: You’ve done a lot of stand-up and a lot of TV work. Do you have a preference?

AH: My preference is to do them both. Doing one or the other full time would be a bit much for me. Although, doing TV work full time might make other aspects of life a bit easier (i.e. I’d have loads more money).

LC: Do you have any pre-show rituals you do to ease the nerves or to bring you good luck?

AH: The band and I embrace, huddle, close our eyes, hope for the best, shake our heads, think about our partners, smile, wink at the bassist, then do half a dozen high fives.

LC: What can people expect from your upcoming gig with the Horne Section and Tim Key at Shoreditch Town Hall?

AH: We’ll play all our hit songs, there’ll be some dancing, at least four songs, a game, an awards ceremony and a bit of technology that might not work. Should be fun.

LC: You’ve done a lot of shows with Tim Key, why do you enjoy performing with him so much?

AH: He’s my son’s godfather so I mainly enjoy knowing where he is and checking he’s not gone completely off the rails. Also, he’s a very silly man and I find him really funny.

LC: What’s something in your comedy that you haven’t done yet but that you’d like to do?

AH: I want to do a show where I interview stand up comedians whilst playing them at table tennis. I think I’m genuinely excellent at table tennis so would get the chance to display that talent, and I think the mild competition would bring out the best in my colleagues.

LC: What does the future look like for you and the Horne Section?

AH: I genuinely have no idea. But I’m hoping we carry on gigging around the country (world?) whilst doing the occasional telly gig to keep us going financially and letting more people find out about our stupid act. If someone was to commission our own sitcom/quiz/chat show, I suppose I’d be happy enough, but mainly, I just don’t want it all to stop.

LC: And because we’re London Calling and love all things London, where would you say is your favourite place to perform in London?

AH: I love the Soho Theatre. We have a sort of residency in the downstairs cabaret bar and it’s always an incredible atmosphere, even at 7.15pm on a Monday night, and that’s a rare commodity.

Alex Horne and the Horne Section will be performing with special guest Tim Key on Friday 21st October at Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT. Book tickets online.