Alex Horne's lifetime of laughter in one night
PUBLISHED: 17:03 30 April 2012
In your lifetime you'll spend two years shopping, two weeks kissing and seven years in the bathroom. Alex Horne is trying to pack it all into one night. SIMON PARKIN reports.
“It’s going to be difficult fun,” admits Alex Horne, and he’s not joking. Over 60 minutes of his latest show he’s going to live out the average man’s 79-year life, cramming in the scaled-down equivalent of four years in a car, seven years in the bathroom, 10 years at work and much more.
Star and co-creator of BBC4’s comedy quiz show We Need Answers, which he presents alongside Tim Key and Mark Watson, the award-winning comedian has established a reputation among critics, comics and audiences as a thoughtful and original stand-up, writer and solo performer.
He has spent more than a decade building shows around niche subjects like bird watching, Latin, dictionaries and quantum mechanics including Making Fish Laugh that saw him nominated for the Perrier Best Newcomer Award.
Now he’s decided to raise his game and is having a crack at life itself.
Seven Years In The Bathroom, his latest wheeze, is the ultimate stat-based fun-packed thought-provoking experimental-and-sometimes-stupid comedy show in which Alex aims to recreate an entire life. He’ll do everything you’ll ever do but in one evening.
And to get an idea of the scale of the fool’s errand he has taken on: in an average lifetime you’ll spend two years shopping, two weeks kissing and 18 months looking for things you’ve lost. You’ll also spend quite a while eating, queuing, crying and Googling yourself.
Alex aims to squeeze all these things into one show. It’ll be a chance to laugh at your life — quite literally.
“I like statistics,” says the comedian about why he has chosen to take on such a huge task. “I particularly like the one that says ‘if the history of the earth is condensed into a single year then humans only arrive at five to midnight on New Year’s Eve”. That’s a good one. Mainly because it makes you think, blimey, just in time; isn’t the earth old and isn’t my tiny life insignificant.”
That was the spur to get Horne calculating just how much of our lives we spend on activities such as housework, bathing and eating facts he will be sharing with the audience when he performs at Norwich Arts Centre next week.
“I’m going to show you exactly what it would look like if a human life was condensed into one hour. That’s the big idea. You may well have heard that in your life you’ll spend two years queuing, two weeks kissing and three months opening jars, well, now you’re going to see what that would look like in the context of your entire life.”
It won’t be just one long list of statistics though. As anyone who has seen his previous shows will attest, he is adept at taking a seemingly dry subject, like say birdwatching, and mining out the humour amid the mundane facts.
“There will also be some jokes,” he insists, “but mainly it’ll be a typical human existence squeezed into an hour.”
Having previously got his comedy point across using PowerPoint, there will as ever be some nifty presentation techniques, but we should also expect the unexpected too.
“I’ll be attempting several things for the first time ever in public: wearing a bathrobe, drinking exactly 100ml of cider and simulating sex to name a few,” he says. “It’ll be about as rock‘n’roll as a geek like me could ever dare dream.”
As well as his fact-based shows — which includes his world record attempt to be the world’s oldest man, check out how he’s getting on at www.longlivealex.com — he is also part of the innovative jazz comedy show The Horne Section which completed a run at The Edinburgh Festival in 2011 and played to sold out audiences in the West End.
Does he think people are becoming more open minded about where they’ll get their laughs, rather than relying just on straight stand-up? “People currently seem to like going to stand-up nights and don’t mind taking a punt on someone proposing a jazz-comedy hybrid or a show all about Latin,” he said. “As for jokes running out, I’ve heard there are only a few hundred left. But they should keep us going for a generation or two and after that, well, it’s not really our problem, is it?”
■ Alex Horne: Seven Years In The Bathroom is at Norwich Arts Centre on May 2, £12, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk