Alex Horne: Birdwatching

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Fed up with comedians who know what they’re talking about? Alex Horne may be your man. As he cheerfully admits, his knowledge of birdwatching – the theme for 60 minutes of stand-up – is negligible.

Or at least it was. He decided to take an interest to try to get closer to his father, an avid twitcher, who he’s nicknamed Duncton.

Of course, being a geeky comedian with a Fringe show to write, Horne decided the best way to immerse himself in his dad’s world was with a pointless challenge he could obsess over. Thus the contest was set: to see who could see the most species of bird in the wild in the course of a year.

Cue the obligatory PowerPoint demonstrations of how the adventure’s going (Horne likes the software almost as much as Duncton likes birds) as we race towards the climactic deadline.

In the end, the quest is, sensibly, played down, especially given how overcrowded this genre has become. Instead, it’s a more straightforward story, illustrated by Horne’s decidedly lo-fi animations. Birdwatching is more restrained in its use of technology than Horne’s previous shows, and less complicatedly ambitious.

It relies instead on his low-key stand-up charm, of which he has plenty. He’s not especially confident in delivery, but that same trait means he can also be engagingly self-effacing about his own inadequacies. At times, he sounds uncannily like his friend Mark Watson, as he talks about every trivial happening in the room.

Birdwatching hides are not, as Horne points out, the best place for hilarious banter, so the comedy he gets from Duncton’s hobby is slight. It does, however, form a convenient platform for him to talk about his dad, with obvious affection but not much fanfare.

It’s an amiable, rather sweet, show, if light on substance and gut-busting hilarity.

Reviewed by Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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