The Horne Section

If I were to imagine a perfect evening’s entertainment, I’d like to think I’d come up with something not dissimilar to The Horne Section. It’s the carnival, the jazz club, the game show, the variety act, the comedy gig – all rolled into one glorious tombola of mischief and mayhem. Comedian Alex Horne is our ring master, resplendent in tale coat and flanked by a five piece band – ‘I’m Horne,’ he tells us, ‘and this is my Section. We all have one’. If only we did.Each night the show presents three guest acts from the Fringe – its four the night I come, as some of the songs are absent due to the keyboard player – allegedly – burning his fingers in a toaster. Each perform with a live, improvised jazz accompaniment from the band. In between, Horne and his Section sing songs, play games, sometimes both at once, as decided by selections from their seventh member: a big wheel made, we’re told, from a single ancient oak. One layer on the wheel’s face, for example, has a host of classic board games, which will form the basis for mass participatory audience games, with a television-show theme tune from the band. Tonight the game is Twister, with Horne making up the rules as he goes. ‘Put your left arm on the leg of the person to your left’ he tells us – the audience move as a sea, leaning across the aisles to touch the legs of strangers. The game ends once we are all trying to sit on the shoulders of the person to our right. For the record, I manage it just fine.Then it’s time for the guests. American comic Hannibal Buress matches his laid-back performance style to a cool, smooth jazz set from the Section; Hot Tub’s Kurt and Kristen do their living ventriloquist dummy act with a cabaret backing; and beat-boxer Schlomo provides the nearest we come to a straight jazz set, conducting the live band like an MC sampling and mixing on a deck. A guy in the front row sings four lines of Oklahoma! before the headliner – if such a hierarchy exists here – Mark Watson bumbles on, breaking the mic stand, mocking the Oklahoma! guy, singing a song about a bouncy castle and then arm wrestling the Oklahoma! guy, who beats him, if you’ll excuse the pun, hands down.But it’s the songs that make it, along with Horne’s fantastic turn as the ceremony’s Lord of Misrule. It’s carnivalesque in a very old-fashioned sense, a sort of twelfth night mania. This culminates in Horne’s favourite audience member being crowned the King of Edinburgh, regaled with personalised banners, serenaded with the band’s final number and paraded around the Spiegletent, being pushed by Schlomo in a wheelbarrow. Surely comedy doesn’t get much better than that.

Reviews by Tom Moyser

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

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★★
Traverse Theatre

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★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

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★★★★
Summerhall

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★★★
Summerhall

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★★★★★

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The Blurb

Jazz based, vein-popping, late night comedy variety show ‘The Horne Section’ is back with a brand new show after conquering Melbourne and London’s West End. *** ** (Time Out). ‘A certifiable smash’ (Evening Standard).

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