Edinburgh Fringe 2015
The only band to ever host Never Mind the Buzzcocks and stars of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, the mighty Horne Section are back with their very own quiz show featuring the world’s finest comedians. After numerous bits and bobs on TV, three of their own series on Radio 4 and five years of sell-out shows around the world, Alex Horne now leads his outlandishly brilliant band into proper question-related battle.
This year Alex Horne is doing something different with his talented jazz band, and is combining their improvisational talents with a celebrity quiz show. It is silly and pointless and a good way to spend the last hours of a Monday night at the Edinburgh Fringe.
The premise is that this is a sort of mishmash of all quiz and game shows, where instead of prizes you win fruit, and a live band underscores it all perfectly. There is a Crystal Maze round, Blockbusters, Battleships and more. Alex Horne holds the whole thing together as the grand quiz master and does a very good job.
Horne is nice to watch onstage, he is quick witted and has an easy rapport with the audience. He is unafraid to make a fool of himself, and this he does in spades (most notably during the entirely inexplicable audience participation-based Zumba session, he coerces us into towards the end of the show.)
The contestants are two guest comedians, skimmed from the upper echelons of the fringe. On the night I went to see it they were Tiffany Stevenson and Al Murray, who were good enough sports to make the thing work, but I imagine that with comedians more quick-witted or talented at improvisation one or even two more stars could be added to this show’s rating.
Stevenson and Murray got into the spirit of the competition well enough, but there was certainly a good deal of awkwardness about quite what the vibe of the show was, and how they should act. I got a sense the Stevenson was quite nervous, which manifested in a lot of rather loud and irritating laughter into the mic. She did make some funny comments, but the slightly chaotic and madcap formula of the show meant that some of these were missed.
The real stars of the show were the band, who on demand from Horne struck up a plethora of tunes and backing music that helped the whole thing go well. Perhaps a highlight was a Reggae version of Radiohead’s No Surprises, which was excellent. I think the band could have been used a little more, as there is so much potential for them to play more ‘name that tune’ style rounds, or provide backing music for embarrassing dances, which on the occasions this did happen were amongst the best moments.
I think this is clearly a show that is finding its feet in terms of format, and is hit and miss depending on the guests. However, it was very funny in parts, and Horne’s skill carries it along and makes it a very enjoyable and amusing night out.