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Alex Horne: Taskmaster II

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Taskmaster is one of those one-off, 'only in Edinburgh' shows. The concept is simple: Alex Horne is the 'Taskmaster', setting tasks throughout the year that a group of comedians (Dan Atkinson, Stu Goldsmith, Steve Hall, Tim Key, Lloyd Langford, Josie Long, Mark Watson, Henning Wehn, Joe Wilkinson) and one critic (Bruce Dessau) must tackle. Points are awarded for their efforts, and a winner crowned at the end of the show.

The tasks range from the simple (Task 3: Guess the date of birth, weight, name etc of Horne's second baby) to the ridiculous (Task 5: Drink a pint of rainwater), and the comedians' endeavours are presented during the show.

Highlights included some impressive clay modelling skills from Goldsmith (Task 4: Make a statue of Alex Horne), Tim Key risking his 2009 Foster's Comedy Award trophy in a bid to win Task 1 (Send in something expensive), and a series of emails from Horne to Dessau - and only Dessau (comedy critic for the Evening Standard) - encouraging him to win Task 7 by jumping into the sea (which he did).

The whole show is thoroughly good fun, and a rare opportunity to see so many Festival favourites on the same stage.

The eventual winner was Josie Long, who beat Stu Goldsmith in a tie-break by fitting 18 grapes into her mouth. Her victory meant she won all the items submitted for Task 1, including Key's 2009 trophy; however, after her winner's speech she graciously returned it to him. As a nominee for this year's main Foster's award, she does after all have a chance to win her own to keep.

- Emma Watkins


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