‘But is it comedy?’ asks Alex Horne about half way through Monsieur Butterfly. It’s a valid question as this show was so far removed from your average Live at the Apollo Roadshow set as it’s possible to get. Nor is it a surreal skip through non sequiturs or deliberately laboured anti-Comedy.
He explores familiar themes of family, friendship and childhood in a way that is utterly unique. Of course I am clearly skirting around what the show actually is and that’s because this is something best viewed as unspoilt as possible. In fact I’m almost tempted to tell you to stop reading here and book a ticket. I am telling you that. Do it. Because even if it’s not comedy (and of course it’s comedy, everyone was laughing) you will never forget it.
In fact, the best comedy can feel like both the audience and comedian are building something together from the relationship between the two. Horne here literalises this. And though what we built with him seems ramshackle it is precisely structured to Horne’s design. I don’t think I’ve
ever seen an hour of comedy with the sheer amount of effort on display here is staggering. This is Horne’s stock in trade of course – previous shows of his have had rafts of elaborate audience participation – but this takes it to new levels. Horne’s awkward charm works wonders here and brings the whole crowd on board; the whole room was totally on board from the get go.
It’s moving too, Horne here is vulnerable as well as a ringmaster but I did think the final metaphor was a bit contrived; trying to impose something profound on something already totally joyous. That is a minor quibble for a truly excellent night out. Ok I’ll tell you one thing that happens: he shoots an arrow with a kite string through a toilet seat suspended from the ceiling.