Alex Horne at South Street on Saturday
May 24, 2012
When we catch up with Alex Horne halfway through his stint at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it’s almost impossible not to picture him wearing a cork hat, stoking a barbecue and sitting next to a koala bear.
The British comedian is spending a month at the festival in Oz before his UK tour and it sounds as though he’s enjoying life at the other side of the world.
“How did you know I was here?” he asks, adding a “good work” when we explain we did a bit of research.
“Australia is excellent, thank you. It’s all kangaroos on every corner, barbies on the hour every hour and neighbours constantly becoming good friends.
“It’s genuinely extraordinary to be flown to the other side of the world just to make people laugh and I’m doing my best to love every minute of it.
“Obviously the same goes for coming to Reading.”
Although the weather here might not be quite as good as Australia Alex says he’s looking forward to bringing his latest show, Seven Years in the Bathroom, to South Street.
“I have been Reading before, for the festival in 1995,” he says, adding “It was immediately after getting my GCSE results – I did quite well, thank you.”
Having gigged at various venues in the town Alex assures us Reading is “one of my top three places in the world, the others being Peru and Europe”. Apparently it’s mainly due to the Oracle – “not the shopping centre, just a clever bloke I know who lives there.”
With his silly sense of humour Alex is instantly likeable and he tells us about some of the more bizarre projects he has done over the last few years, like the Taskmaster Challenge.
For his 2010 Edinburgh show Alex challenged other comics to complete a series of monthly tasks, which threw up a delightful mix of weird and wonderful material for his show.
“It was a lot of fun for me,” he says. “Essentially I bossed about a load of comedians for a couple of years, asking them to do elaborate but meaningless tasks to win points and, maybe a prize.
“Comedians are naturally competitive so they went to great lengths to impress me. One made me a 100 foot ice sculpture of a horse (although apparently it melted before it reached me), one made a perfect reconstruction of Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ music video and Tim Key gave me his coveted Edinburgh Comedy Award, meaning I am now a Perrier winner.
“Also a man called Tim Fitzhigham drank a pint of wine in 10 seconds. I do not condone this.”
Alex has also been busy trying to work his way into the Guinness Book of Records with his project Long Live Alex.
“I always wanted to get into the Guinness Book of Records, ideally as either the fastest or tallest man in the world (I am secretly still hoping for a late growth spurt), but the oldest man in the world seemed the most realistic.
“So far, it’s going pretty well. I’ve recently banned bombs, cyanide and murderers from the house so I’m feeling more confident than ever.”
The odds might not be exactly in his favour – a pseudo-scientific counter on his website says he is currently the 2,960,848,009th oldest person – but they play a big part in his latest show.
“The show is based on the statistics you often read that say how much of your life you spend doing different activities,” he explains. “I try to recreate an entire human life proportionally in one hour so you can see how much of your life is spent doing meaningless tasks, fun tasks and A.O.B.
“If you come and watch you should be able to get a glimpse of your existence from a slightly different angle as well as hearing at least three high(ish) quality jokes. It’s fun. Also there will be nudity and a microwave.”
Although his humour comes easily Alex says he does his best never to describe his comedy, simply saying “it’s very, very, very funny. Actually, maybe not that funny, but fairly funny.”
His previous shows have proved a huge hit with audiences and critics and he was nominated for the Perrier newcomer awards in 2003 for his show Making Fish Laugh.
“Unfortunately you can’t make fish laugh, as the promoters of my previous marine-based tour will be able to tell you,” he says. “They’re just so soggy, fish – very disappointing audience members.
“Fingers crossed the folk of Reading will be almost entirely mammals.”
Alex Horne: Seven Years in the Bathroom, Saturday, South Street, Reading. Box office (0118) 960 6060