Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A variety show? A comedy show? A music comedy show? I’m not sure how exactly The Horne Section should be categorised, but call it what you want, it’s nothing short of a boisterous, bonkers, outstandingly entertaining comedic romp at the end of the day.
A variety show? A comedy show? A music comedy show? It’s hard to know how exactly The Horne Section should be categorised but, call it what you want, it’s nothing short of a boisterous, bonkers, outstandingly entertaining comedic romp at the end of the day.
They’ve got props galore, including a wheel of fortune whose choices of chance include everything from board games to musical genres and styles. With every spin of the wheel, the band must perform or play the genre, style, or board game indicated, at times aided by two able audience members. The band are professionals of the highest order and improvise at will, whether it’s a ditty made up on the spot or jamming with the rotating bevy of three guest comedians who sit in on the show nightly.
The rotating guest spots make the improvised, anything-goes atmosphere all the more haphazard and the unknown outcomes all the more enticing. There is only one rule that every guest comedian has to abide by: They must somehow incorporate the band in their 15 minute spot. The beauty of this is that there is no previous rehearsal time and most of the comedians are not singers, so using the band could range from a one-note rendition of ‘New York, New York’ to the soundtrack to a 15-minute murder mystery. But no matter where the action may go, what depths of insanity or heights of giddiness, The Horne Section follow. The result is inevitably hilarious, ridiculous, dicey, and utterly delicious,
The genius of this show is that every performer on the stage, from the band to the guests to Horne himself, is a consummate professional, and in my experience, if you get a bunch of performers who are all brilliant at what they do, love what they do, who are up for having a good time, and then stick them in front of an audience, something magical is going to happen.
And of course, every good ship must have its captain and no better man for the job than comedian Alex Horne. Warm, generous, with just the right dash of acidity, Horne effortlessly steers the show hither and thither, a consummate master of ceremonies who improvises with both audience and band members alike with equal amounts of aplomb and devilment. His timing is impeccable, his banter trips off the tongue with the ease of a seasoned professional, and, although Horne may claim not to be a musician, his imitation of a beat box is absolutely spot-on.
The Horne Section themselves are technically masterful and fluidly comedic musicians and the rocking sextet never miss a beat (no pun intended). Piano virtuoso and vocalist Joe Stilgoe stands out as musical director and has his own show on as well at Underbelly.
The Horne Section is a muso-comic chocolate deluxe sundae with whipped cream, hundreds and thousands, and seven cherries on top. The combination of musical ingenuity and comic brilliance not only blows the roof off the venue but makes you howl with laughter, gape in amazement, and wish you could come back again and again, if just to see the wheel of fortune land on ‘Boy Band’. It’s a gut-busting, laugh-a –minute, sparkling celebration of outstanding comedy and entertainment. Treat yourself to at least one visit.