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Review by Hannah Wilkin.
I spent Friday night taking part in a 200-person game of Twister and watching a grandmother struggle into an egg costume. This is the fault of The Horne Section.
The Horne Section consists of a band of extraordinarily talented jazz musicians and the comedian Alex Horne. Together they perform a variety of hilarious improvised songs and stand-up comedy, in a way that blends fantastic music with ridiculous hilarity.
Horne glided onto the stage in Heelies and began to settle the band into place. He motioned with his conductor’s baton for the bass player to lie flat on his back and asked the trumpet player to take off one shoe and put his foot through the back of the chair. He handed an audience member a microphone and a musical penguin. From then on, Horne had both musicians and audience at his beck and call and in fits of hysterics.
The best and most accurate way I could describe the night is 100% pure quality banter. It felt like we’d spent the evening having a laugh with Alex Horne and his mates and we all left with the same shared private jokes.
I first listened to The Horne Section on the radio, so I was surprised by how visual a lot of their comedy was. There was one routine in which Horne and the trumpet player walked onto the stage blindfolded and took turns bowing to each other, stepping closer and closer until it looked like they were going to bang heads. It was only when they began doing the dance moves that we all simultaneously realised that the music the band were playing in the background was actually a slowed down version of ‘The Macarena’. My favourite part of the whole night was when Alex Horne declared that they wanted to support a local artist, ‘So please welcome the one and only….Henry…Hoover!!’ *On walks the trumpet player with his head stuffed inside an actual Henry Hoover* It doesn’t sound that funny but trust me, when Henry Hoover perches on the edge of the stage and plays a heartfelt song on the banjo, you will laugh.
Horne’s style is hard to describe. He delivers jokes in a semi-deadpan way, suggesting the most ridiculous things but delivering them with a straight face. Something about Horne is hilarious: he is incredibly silly, yet serious. The chemistry between him and the band members is great: at times they just chatted and we all looked on laughing. As I said before the band are extremely talented musicians: the quality of the music was amazing and they seemed to be able to improvise any piece of music that the audience asked them to; which is particularly impressive when you add the fact that Horne kept making them perform the music in bizarre positions (‘Please could you close your eyes, crouch down and hop whilst playing a slow reggae in a minor key?’). Yet despite their immense musical talent the band are not simply there to provide good music for the show; they were more than capable of matching Horne’s silliness.
A lot of the charm came from seeing them perform live in the same room: the music sounded phenomenal and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top the beautiful (and hilarious) experience of being in a theatre full of people all doing a Zumba routine.
I can’t recommend this show enough, it’s a night of top-quality jazz and full-on belly laughing. If you’re looking for an evening that fuses together great music and great comedy – or even if you’re not – then The Horne Section will win you over. Although I must warn you, you will be singing the Chinese Five Spice Song for weeks afterwards.