As he confesses in the opening lines of his show, Alex Horne ‘hates stand-up’. (This is a lie). Nobody who hates stand-up can be quite this good at it. There are many such lies throughout. ‘This is just a comedy show’ is another such one. This is far from ‘just’ anything.
Alex Horne: Lies is indescribable. (This is a lie). However, to try and describe this show would be to do it no semblance of justice. This is also useful for me, as Alex Horne: Lies also proves exceedingly difficult to describe, especially without spoiling the wonderful illusions and twists and turns that precede it. Suffice to say that it is a live comedic discussion of his life, except it isn’t live, or ‘his’ life. This is aided by special guests such as Val McDermid and Michael Caine who are actually present in the room - except they aren’t - and they don’t actually aid much either, instead choosing to flirt or bicker with one another or make feeble passes or insults at an increasingly irate Horne. Confused? Perhaps you should be. Horne has acted upon his entirely false hatred of stand-up, virtually abandoning the concept - or at least going as far as you can go and still be in that section of the Fringe guide. This is some new beast entirely.
Alex Horne is an impressionist painter. (This is a lie). But the way he operates has a strange reticence of Monet or even Cezanne,innocuously applying sly lines here and there. They eventually emerge from the swirling cataclysm that his meandering delivery creates as beautiful, profound and devastatingly funny references. This last detail is crucial; this is no high-brow comedic contraption that remembers the hubris and forgets the humour but is filled with elegant wordplay and delightfully undermined observations and held together with the skill and panache of a juggler. “An hour of this!”, he keeps exclaiming during the surreal opening, and while he means it in deprecation it instead creates increasing wonder that it and he can maintain the conceit and indeed build further layers upon it, and yet still have audiences laughing regularly and fiercely. At one point, he leaves the stage entirely, content to let his ‘guests’ speak and content that his audience have fully bought into his delicious concept.
This show is a delightfully obfuscating jaunt which is as much an exhibition of exquisite showmanship as a very amusing hour of stand-up. And, as he confesses in the closing of the show, Alex Horne loves stand-up. For once, this isn’t a lie.