Alex Horne: ‘You’re basically watching a man having a breakdown while trying to recapture his youth’

Alex Horne

Alex Horne

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Remember that board game Mousetrap, where you had to build a complicated machine to catch a mouse?

And you know that Honda advert, where all the car parts collided to make a thing happen? Now that was a brilliant advert, wasn’t it? Of course, Mousetrap was a game for kids which meant you lost the rubber band and the ball bearing would always fall off the chute.

And that Honda ad actually took nine months to set up, cost a million pounds and was still only successful on the 660th attempt.

Now stand-up comic Alex Horne is attempting to recreate something similar in his Foster’s Comedy Award nominated show Monsieur Butterfly.

He explains his idea behind the show: ‘It came about because I’m a dad. I have three children and I’m becoming a grumpier person than I’ve ever been, and I’m someone with my children that I don’t really like, where I encourage them to watch TV and I don’t want to interact with them.

‘This show is about trying to combat that and re-embrace my youth by making this big Mousetrap-type machine.

‘I didn’t want to do anything with technology, or use projectors, I wanted to go back to making things with my hands, but I’m not practical at all. You’re basically watching a man having a breakdown while trying to recapture his youth.’

As anyone who ever played Mousetrap will recall, things rarely worked out the way they were supposed to.

‘It never worked did it?’ says Alex. ‘Nor does the machine I make. But I think that’s part of the fun of it, it is a shared experience.

‘It’s not even the sort of game you played often – you probably played it twice and then put it in a drawer.

‘My kids tried to play it and it was so fiddly and annoying and with the ballbearing being lost, that I hid it.’

Despite his frustrations, Alex admits: ‘I really enjoy those machines, they’re called Rube Goldberg machines, where one machine makes another thing happen. I saw a show called Slightly Fat Features, where this one guy called John made a roll of tape flip a small elephant into a hat.

‘It was a combination of that and the game that made me want to try this.’

So does the machine work in the shows?

‘Well, we always get to the end of the show, but whether or not it’s successful is another matter.

‘I have found to my relief that it seems to be an innate human thing that if such machines are being made you want to see it happen. Even if you don’t find it funny, you’re still glued to it.’

When he’s not making ludicrously complicated machines that may or may not work, the comedian has been busy with three series of Alex Horne Presents: The Horne Section on BBC Radio 4, and filming a new show called Taskmaster for Dave.

Monsieur Butterfly is at The Ashcroft in Fareham tonight, doors open 7.30pm, and The Spring in Havant tomorrow, doors open 8pm.

Tickets are £15. Go to alexhorne.com/shows

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