I first encountered Nick Helm at The Wilmington Arms about a year ago when he, Michael Legge and Bennett Arron were previewing their 2011 Edinburgh shows. I had never heard of him before but he made a big impression on me. I was terrified. I remember saying at the time that he is the one comedian who I wouldn’t sit in the front row for. At Edinburgh he was nominated for an award too and now he is getting a wider audience after closing each episode of Live At The Electric with some rocking tunes.
Here’s a clip from Channel 4’s “Comedy Blaps”. The sheer desperation and self-pity is fantastic!
Next time I saw Nick was at Michael Legge’s Private Hell and found out he was doing an hour at The Hen & Chickens each week so I decided to go along.
By this time I realised that Nick’s onstage anger is mainly directed at himself (or the audience of course if they misbehave) so I decided to plump for a front row seat. I was the only one. Nick came on stage and immediately went to the back rows, ordering people to move to the front. They all complied. Of course they did. Only an idiot wouldn’t!
This was just a preview so I’m not going to give much away, but the opening song, “This Means War” saw Nick ordering the front two rows on to the stage to sing along backing vocals. He berated us for not singing loud enough and then added more backing vocals from various sections of the remaining audience. It was a very inclusive way to begin and we all sat down with big smiles on our faces.
He launched into a selection of one-liners before some poetry. Don’t worry about the “P” word. It’s much more fun than it sounds! An extensive section about the best soft drink followed, along with some more songs. This is a show, that if I were going to The Fringe (I’m not), I would definitely go and see.
I decided to go and see him the following week too and he had an excellent new opening which didn’t involve him saying or moving very much. The audience though were awful. There were 2 lads beside me who hadn’t seen Nick before but had come because of Live At The Electric. These lads, however, were not awful. They were great, and one of them spent most of the show on stage with Nick, looking both embarrassed and proud at the same time.
A lot of the others though were chatty, interrupting dicks. Two walked out after half an hour or so, which was fine, but when a woman in the second row kept talking, he said that he wished it was her that had left. She left, to a round of applause by me! Dicks aside, it was a really fun evening!
Afterwards I had a drink and a chat with Nick. What a lovely man. He is surprisingly soft spoken, and generous with his time and conversation. Go and see it Edinburgh people. make sure it’s on your list if you want to see lashings of impotent fury, self pity, self loathing and have a right good singalong. And the ever hanging threat of psychological violence.