The Horne Section, Lyric Theatre, London
Thursday 17 February 2011
There seems to be no end to the contexts in which people stage comedy. You can now have your laughs pretty much any which way: by the sea, in the air (BA are trying for a world record for highest comedy gig for Comic Relief) or, as well as all manner of site-specific events, merged with an array of musical stylings.
The Horne Section riff on a comedy and jazz fusion, with the mild-mannered comic Alex Horne leading a house band of double bass, trumpet, sax, drums and keyboard (played by Joe Stilgoe, son of Richard Stilgoe), who provide a soundscape for five acts to perform against.
As the glue that holds proceedings together, The Horne Section's own contribution includes half-baked warm-up ideas such as a game of battleships involving two audience volunteers. A Blind Date ruse is equally slight, but appropriately enough on Valentine's night, there is sufficient love in the room by this point to let indulgence fly – at least until the closing numbers, when the band seem to have forgotten how to beat a timely retreat.
Fortunately the guests, from the retro ukelele trio The Strumpettes to the stand-ups Doc Brown and Greg Davies are on song. Rapper-turned-comic Doc Brown has the house band back him on a number of tunes, including a Valentine's special that entreats his children to allow him quality time with his wife: "Your mum and dad, they have a date/ so I'm gonna tuck you in with gaffer tape."
The selection of autobiographical stories from the Inbetweeners star Greg Davies's acclaimed solo show aren't embellished or diminished by musical accompaniment. Meanwhile, Tim Key, who has just released an album, is well used to his poems being set to music. Among the verses framed by musical phrases tonight is a quick passion killer running: "I counted to 100 and said 'I'm coming' but it was a trick and she had left me."
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