With a plethora of props (including an hourglass that runs for 63 minutes, an easel and dressing gown) plus his by-now trademark laptop and screen, Horne is surely the most forensically prepared comedian in Britain. Previously he has bamboozled us with shows about Latin, body language and birdwatching, in which statistics and jokes run in perfect tandem.
For this touring affair, Seven Years in the Bathroom, Horne has unleashed his massive brain on to the subject of ageing, and analyses the average amount of time we humans spend on various activities. These include reading newspapers, dreaming, opening jars and queuing, each factoid seemingly an excuse to involve the audience in his off-the-wall experiment. But here lies Horne’s genius. Despite his clear obsession with percentages and probabilities, numbers and letters (he went on Countdown with the express intention of smuggling a new word into the dictionary), he is ultimately a people-person.
He loves the warmth that a receptive crowd can provide and the only way he knows to achieve that is to be intelligent and erudite without being arrogant or alienating. So, when Horne gets individuals to paint his portrait, sleep on the stage or be married to him, it is done with no fear of humiliation. Instead we are all party to this modern eccentric’s joy of the world around him.