Review: Alex Horne – Wordwatching
LOTTIE UNWIN and ROB SMITH can think of very little funnier than this original show.
Friday 19th February, The Junction, £10
Alex Horne is the man you really want to meet in the pub, making you laugh with absolutely no suggestion of anything seedy in his tales of Verbal Gardening. He has the best late night ideas, in the same vein as so much radical thought; I am going to go to lectures, buy a space hopper or cycle across China – delete appropriate to ambition. But, unlike the rest of us Horne is the kind of man who gets up in the morning having meant the brilliant things he said.
Horne set out to get a new word into the dictionary in January 2006 with determination that is still going strong. When I expected the humour to lie in the ideas themselves, ever aware of the end goal he settled on plausible options. Honk is money, for the worthy reason that over time there has been a vast number of slang words for cash. A pratdigger filled a hole in the market as ‘that friend of yours who always has a shit girlfriend everyone has to put up with, or a crap best mate from school they always ask out with you, or the person who finds the most obnoxious person at a party and exposes everyone to them: i.e. someone who digs up prats’. A TK Day is the 10,000th day you have been alive, falling a third of the way through your 27th year, and you can actually order a cake online, but if you do Alex will have to make it. When he is not working as a Verbal Gardener, Horne is on a mission to become the oldest man alive, ‘personal best’ signs flashing as the show goes on.
The description of the day he changed every Wikipedia mention of hands to ‘paddles’ to promote another of the 10 chosen words and phrases had me doubled over and there was some joyous audience participation where we were asked to name our favourite fonts. His absolute sincerity while appreciating the hilarity of the story he was telling was a lovable combination. A son set his mother up to be taunted, calling out that she beat her husband, which demonstrates the atmosphere of the event; families had brought their kids, young teenagers felt relaxed enough to pipe up, and I was proud to admit I am a Countdown fan. Even the mention of pinching Carol Vorderman’s arse, when Horne competed in the show, was redeemed when he produced a handful of blue ‘R’s. Get it?
The Junction showed Alex Horne at his very best, thriving off the intimate space. Selfishly, I am tentative to try and persuade anyone to go as huge crowds would ruin his appeal and worst-case scenario, I might not be able to get tickets. If the prospect of acting out punctuation in conversation, for example leaning to one side to speak in italics, doesn’t make you spit wine all over your lap as you giggle that is something I will have to learn to understand. In tribute to all those readers, the absence of a fifth star is my recognition that the show appeals to a niche market in which I am prime stock.
If words are your thing, next time Alex Horne is in town it would be a bollo mental safari not to put your paddles into your pockets, pay the honk and go along.
Oh, and, I heard a rumour Natasha Kaplinsky is 6.2 ft. Amazing, isn’t it?
Rob Smith’s Thoughts
When Lottie first got involved with The Tab we had grand ideas about reviewing shows together and writing humorous two parter reviews. Predictably, this is the first time such a thing has actually happened but better late than never as they always say. Anway, if reading that last sentence you thought ‘What a lazy and unoriginal reliance on an overused idiom’, then Alex Horne’s show is probably for you.
Horne is someone who has been on the periphery of my comedy radar for some time now but who I’ve been meaning to see recently due to his role in BBC Four’s sublime We Need Answers. As you’d expect from a former student of Greek and Latin, and Footlights almnus, he is an incredibly intelligent manipulator of words and phrases. This really doesn’t do him justice, however, as his main strength lies in packaging this clever stuff in an accesible and honest way (I should point out here that I’m not using ‘honest’ in Horne’s new usage of the term). The Junction was perfect for Horne, being intimate without feeling empty. This intimacy allowed a discourse with the audience that was above the usual someone drunk calling the comedian a prick and then being destroyed in front of a crowd of people.
I can’t recommend Horne’s show enough. It’s witty and clever but also warm and inviting. It uses lots of technology but in a rather sweet and purposefully amateurish way. It’s aimed at adults but only has one swear word in (unless of course you count ‘bollo’ but we all know that it’s not as bad even as piss). Although being student-journo-scum I got my ticket for free, I would have gladly splashed out £10 of my valuable honk on this excellent show. After all, what’s a few demis and cutters for an evening in Dick Knickers’ corner?