ALEX HORNE and I are having a water-cooler moment.
Literally. ‘I have always wanted to throw a telly out of a hotel window, obviously, so I’m going to throw this water cooler at this glass door and see what happens,’ says the man usually found sitting beside the imperious Greg Davies on Bafta-nominated series Taskmaster, which has just returned on Dave.
‘Water coolers are heavier than you might imagine,’ he adds, heaving it above his head and looking distinctly non-rock’n’roll. ‘A flat-screen TV might be easier. I now see why rock stars tend to throw them, rather than water coolers, out of hotel windows.’
Horne doesn’t usually get his hands dirty. On Taskmaster, he helps Greg Davies set the tasks (this one appears in the latest series) rather than doing them himself, adjudicating as his panel of comics get swept up in baffling hijinks.
On stage, however, it’s a different story: his solo stand-up shows have seen him get hands-on with everything from birds to words. In one show he even worked in an autobiography of sorts while building a giant version of the game Mousetrap.
Now Taskmaster has temporarily kiboshed those solo outings, only leaving him time for his hit musical comedy show, The Horne Section, which he is unleashing again on tour.
‘It’s so exciting because that’s my one chance to muck around,’ he says later, amiably settling into a sofa. ‘I just think: as long as it looks like we’re having fun.’
Fun is guaranteed – the decidedly non-musical Horne plays hectoring frontman to a group of musical pals as they inject a shot in the arm to the musical comedy genre.
Some songs are one-liners in themselves, some soundtrack jokes, some just delightfully absurd. It all sits just the right side of shambolic.
‘It’s a mix of no preparation and loads,’ says Horne. ‘The band are quite perfectionist, so they want to rehearse, but I’m always trying to encourage them into thinking that it’s fine to make mistakes. It’s funnier to stop what you’re doing and say, “Why did you play that note?” and talk it through, find out what went wrong.’
It’s all very self-effacing and falteringly English, as is Horne’s trademark style – which makes it all the more intriguing that Horne is soon to be unleashed on America. A US version of Taskmaster is in the can, with Horne this time playing sidekick to James Corden’s Late Late show band leader, Reggie Watts.
‘It’s exactly the same but set in LA in a lovely house with a swimming pool,’ grins Horne, ‘so it’s all sunny. Reggie’s great and I was exotic there, which I’ve never been in my life. So that was brilliant.’
Did his offbeat humour translate across the Pond? ‘I didn’t worry. Part of the point is that we get five disparate people who wouldn’t normally be in a show together. I don’t think Americans are that different in sense of humour.’
All this talk of LA doesn’t mean Horne will be popping up in US sitcoms, however.
‘There was no sense that “this was a start”,’ he says. ‘There’s no career plan. But I do keep trying to write sitcoms, though I think I might be bad at it. But I’m not admitting defeat – I’ll keep trying.’
We live in hope.
■ The Horne Section plays at| the Soho Theatre, London until Nov 13. For details of his tour visit thehornesection.com
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The Hero’s Journey by The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra
Hey, fancy an album based on the concept of the monomyth? Well here you go, kids. A kaleidoscope of musical styles, beautifully scored and played, and sung with huge panache. You can hear me wittering on one track but don’t let that put you off. This fine work looks at the profound and the trivial without ever forgetting to have a lot of fun.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This Netflix sitcom just keeps getting funnier. Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, it stars Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess, both gifted comedy actors. It crackles with smart writing and terrific performances, and it dares to occupy its own space entirely.
The Strange World Of Gurney Slade
This 1960 sitcom was astonishingly ahead of its time. Devised by and starring Anthony Newley, it broke all the rules. It frequently breaks the fourth wall and anything can happen and does as we are taken into Slade’s world. It seems a clarion call heralding the breakdown of the old order that the 1960s was about to witness. Weird and wonderful.
Kevin Eldon voices Penfold in the new Danger Mouse cartoon on CBBC until September 29