Alex Horne: The stand-up comedian and band-leader talks sharks, beards and going on the run


I've always been scared of fish Specifically sharks, because of watching Jaws when I was to young. I'm hoping I was 10. I think I might have been 15. I trod on a dead fish a couple of years later and it floated to the surface and stared at me. I still have a residual fear of the sea. I'm more than happy to devour fish, mind. Just don't want them to eat me.

I trained to be a journalist That was my fallback, but I couldn't take anything very seriously. I had a brief stint as "People's Journalist" for the West Sussex Gazette; I'd do golden-wedding anniversaries and pet deaths. I was always looking for an angle; it wasn't great.

I don't think I was ever confident But most of my nerves went the very first time I ever did stand-up, at university. I had about six months of failing to turn up, walking past the [venue] door; that first hurdle is a lot bigger than the others, and once I'd done it, I couldn't not do it again.

My taste in comedy hasn't really developed since then Harry Hill is still my favourite comedian. I have pretty unsophisticated tastes; I enjoy the videos on You've Been Framed a lot – I don't think there's much that's funnier than people falling over. I prefer that to Bill Hicks.

I don't like going to the theatre I can never get past there being people on stage pretending to be something else. I like a film, but I'm always aware in a theatre that I could stand up and push them off something.

I'm under no illusions: I'm not at all musical My band [the Horne Section] are very keen to tell me that. I had piano lessons for six months and got nowhere. One of the gimmicks of our show is that I slag off the band, in a warm way, but they do let me know I can't actually sing. I have a go, though.

I was quite serious about breaking the world's oldest man record And I still would like to do it – I think there's still the kudos there – but the more I learn about what I'd have to sacrifice, like not eating sausages… I think I'd like to break the record, but still eat sausages. So I'm now aiming more for 82, and I kind of want to have a lifestyle where my body will deteriorate by that age. If I'm still clinging on in my nineties, then I'll go for the record, but I don't want it enough to change my life.

I'm scared of not having a beard I was unbearded when I got married and I think that's right: I think you should look very different in your wedding photos to how you look now. I've had it for about eight years, so my children [aged four, two-and-a-half and seven months] have known me only as a bearded man. I'm worried about what's underneath – that I've either got a very weak chin or a very fat chin.

I wasn't into bird-watching until I spent a year competing with my dad He's not a twitcher, he's a birder – there's a lot of difference. Twitchers are like trainspotters, bird-watchers are connoisseurs. I'm quite proud that my bird-feeders are always full. We had siskins in the garden, and that genuinely gets me as excited as almost anything in my life.

I'd love to be a fugitive – ideally for something I hadn't done Or even just be dragged into an interrogation just for a bit of excitement. I'm by no means busy every day and I think I've been recognised as a comedian once where I live, which is ideal, as I spend a lot of time out with my children. So I'm happy as I am, but a bit of excitement, one mistaken identity, would spice it up.

The Horne Section perform at London's Wonderground on the South Bank fortnightly until September and at the Edinburgh Festival through August alongside Alex Horne's solo show 'Lies' (