Tim Key and Alex Horne: How we met

'We spent an afternoon seeing how much stuff we could fit down our trousers. I managed a toaster and quite a lot of cutlery'

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The Independent Online

Alex Horne, 36

An award-winning comedian, Horne has gained a huge following with his musical-comedy troupe the Horne Section. His latest project, 'Monsieur Butterfly', has been nominated for a Foster's Comedy Award and won him a Chortle award for innovation. He lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife and their three children

Tim is just a slob, really, and he's got very itchy feet, literally. It's dreadful, he scratches them all the time. I first set eyes on him at an audition for a pantomime I had written at university, for the Cambridge Footlights. It was Treasure Island with two spoof raps, and Tim had to improvise a fight with Long John Silver.

At that point I didn't know he wasn't actually studying at Cambridge: his cover story was that he went to the same college as I happened to go to, though I was confident I'd have known him if he did. His lie made me like him more, and I helped keep it hush-hush.

The rest of us in Footlights were students there, we were a gang, but it was Tim who knew what he wanted to do more than the rest of us. And as we were useful to Tim, he clung to us like a limpet, and he did a summer tour with us. I hate praising him, but he was a good actor. He was a nomadic wisp of a character, and happy as, unlike us, he didn't have exams to do. So while we were busy studying, he just wafted around without commitments.

The following year we all went up to the Edinburgh Festival. I had a solo show there [2003's "Making Fish Laugh", nominated for a Perrier newcomer award], in which he became a silent partner. It was meant to be [Hot Chip guitarist] Al Doyle, but he left, so Tim was very much a second choice. We performed that for three years together – I have no idea whether he even got paid – before he was off to do his own solo shows.

He lived with me for a while in London. It's not great living with Tim: he's good at cooking but very bad at washing up. We only ever had one massive argument, while playing squash in suits, for a video we were making. He beat me, and I was so annoyed that I wanted to carry on playing until I beat him. I pretended it was because I wanted to film more. It was a teenage tantrum.

Ever since I've known him I've been with my wife, and living with him felt a bit like there were three of us in the relationship; at the point we got engaged, he was still living on my floor.

He's a godfather to my first son. He's good at that: he used to give him £1 whenever he saw him. Though he'd put the money in his mouth, which is not ideal. Then at a football match he managed to scald him with burning hot coffee.

I'm more organised than Tim in every way, but he's funnier and more flamboyant than me, and he can act. He's probably the funniest person I know. His early experiences with stand-up were dreadful – he found that the only way to get his funniness across was to be this rambling, slightly offensive poet. But he's managed to turn his unprofessionalism into an art form; it's a comedy that's nonchalant bordering on arrogant, and it's brilliant.

Tim Key, 38

With a flair for writing deliberately bad poems and delivering them in a deadpan style, the comedian won the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2009. He is also an actor who has appeared in films including 'One Day' and 'Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa'. He lives in north London

Back in 2001, I went to audition for a Footlights pantomime I believe he had written. It was a patchy affair, based on a loose adaption of Treasure Island and a lot of Eminem parodies – it was a product of its time.

I met him a few times after that, but it wasn't until the next summer, when everyone in our group had moved to London to try to do comedy, that we got to know one another. Somehow he'd managed to get a head start there as he was already doing open-mic stuff, so I divided my time between going to watch him and trying to befriend him. He was genial, a very good drunk, and he had a car.

I lucked out and ended up living in his nice flat with him and his brother. Alex was working on a tongue-in-cheek scientific lecture about laughter, and when his assistant quit, Alex asked me if I wanted to fill in. So we did a lot of zooming around in the car with props, doing previews in various places, before going to Edinburgh to perform it. Alex's agent was dead against me doing it, but it did well and we found that we had a good dynamic.

We've got the same sense of humour and I did two more of Alex's solo shows, "Every Body Talks" and "When in Rome", before going on to do my own stuff.

We've had some enjoyable moments together: we once spent an afternoon in the flat seeing how much kitchen stuff we could fit down our trousers. I managed a toaster and quite a lot of cutlery. You find distractions when you have to knuckle down and write things and he was a good person for that.

I went to Horne's wedding to Rachel, which was an own goal on their part. It was on 1 January 2005, so most of us were hungover. Afterwards, Alex, Rachel, me and a few others went to Rome to meet the Pope. Horne is ambitious, and he got wind of the fact that if, as a Catholic, you've got married within the past year, you're entitled to meet the Pope. So several of us went with him and Rachel to Rome for the weekend, and they climbed the stage with lots of newlyweds for his audience. Alex filmed it for part of his "When in Rome" show. It wasn't very funny, though.

I'd love to have his life: he has everything under control. In his shows now he talks about his kids, but they haven't affected the way he works, or our friendship. Now, rather than go to the pub, I'll go over to his earlier, see the kids, and then go to the pub.

Alex Horne and Tim Key appear in 'Taskmaster' from 28 July at 10pm on UKTV's Dave