Always Be Comedy (2 shows): The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2016
Always Be Comedy: Edinburgh Preview: The Exhibit, Balham, London, 2016
Always Be Comedy: The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2017
Nick Helm: Masterworks in Progress ’17: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2017
Nick Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 3: Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London, 2017
Always Be Comedy: The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2018
Nick Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 4: Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London, 2018
Always Be Comedy (2 shows): The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2019
Nick Helm: Phoenix From The Flames: West End Centre, Aldershot, 2019
Nick Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 5: Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London, 2019
Nick Helm: All Killer, Some Filler: Online: 2020
Always Be Comedy Online: (4 shows): Online: 2020
One year when I was at the Edinburgh Fringe, I met my brother in the Pleasance Courtyard for a drink. He told me he was going to see Nick Helm and I couldn’t go because I had another show to go to. He later told me Helm had been great and I had missed out. When I did eventually see Helm at Always Be Comedy in 2016, it was a memorable first encounter. Helm’s comedy style is a no-holes barred combination of self-loathing, rage and vulnerability towards his audience. Bear in mind at the time I did not know this. Helm was on the bill that night with Harry Hill. Hill appeared on stage then there was an interval. At the break, I walked down the stairs to meet Hill and walked past Helm not realising it was him. When Helm appeared on stage I was his target of comic aggression because I had blanked him at the interval. This was my introduction to Helm’s comedy and if you can take this then is brilliantly funny.
Helm’s act is also playful and there’s no mistaking that he is letting out this tirade of anger, hate and aggression towards the crowd for laughs. One night after his performance I met him and he asked if he had been ok on stage? When I told him he was fantastic and very funny, he gave me a bear-hug. On another occasion at Always Be Comedy, I was sitting in the front row laughing loudly at Helm and half of the middle row got up and left the room presumably because of all the swearing and hostility in his act. He came over to me, shook my hand and said ‘Why have they all left?’ and then shook my hand and insulted me! This got a big laugh from me and a massive cheer from my friends in the crowd.
His own show, Nick Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 3 was one of my favourite shows of 2017. I went along with a very good friend and big supporter of Helm’s. The show started with Helm and his band at maximum bombast, enforcing singalong participation in his metal anthems and seeing as it is was Christmas, placed three boxes of mince pies on the stage floor. Whilst still singing, Helm then collected two members of the audience and subjected them to a mince pie eating contest by getting them to shove as many of them in their mouths as possible within a set time. When there were in his mouth, he carried on singing and with brilliant comic timing sprayed the contents all over the front row (me included). That night, Helm was on stage for over two and a half hours with brilliantly clever and very funny routines, audience participation and great guests including Rob Deering, Brett Goldstein and Adam Riches. But it was Helm’s gig and he gave the audience a fantastic show.
Regular favourite Nick Helm appeared to Always Be Comedy in April 2018 for a work-in-progress headline set which did not disappoint. Helm’s on-stage act was a hard-hitting yet endearing beast who intimidated his audience to the point of some walking out, but the joke was always on him. The new work-in-progress was mostly delivered from standing on a table and featured a song that had to be recited to perfection before attempting to carry on with the rest of the set. This worked brilliantly ranting at the audience for getting the lyrics wrong. His targeting of me crying with laughter at him in the row was truly inspired and hilarious. The more aggressive and insulting he was to me, the more I laughed. Even though some of the audience were in shock, the combination of helplessness and despair the comedian projected on stage was an hilarious to watch.
In December 2018, I returned for a second year to Nick’s Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 4, his very popular charity show at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington. Fuelled again by on stage frustration and anger, he attempted to take charge of the night which featured top comedy acts, anarchic Christmas games and songs. One inspired game involved several of the audience on stage each drinking from a bottle of Advocaat and being asked whether they like it or not. The drinking of this from a foil mice pie cup is a show tradition known as the Christmas Oyster and became a deal for Helm’s admittance for not liking eggs (from which Advocaat is made) and him being prepared to try it. Self-penned rock songs performed by Helm and his band The Helmettes were belted out at regular intervals such as One Man Mega Myth, Love Ya Tonight and (You Gotta) Believe In Yourself which the audience loved (incidentally, his albums that I bought for Christmas and my friend has on her playlist are available on ITunes or through his website). For an all-out riotous evening, this annual treat is the very best.
Helm returned to Always Be Comedy again in May and June 2019 for a new work-in-progress set in practice for his Edinburgh Fringe show Phoenix From The Flames. The frustration with set pieces and costumes (including the repeated failure of wings open from the back of his costume whilst singing the title song of the show) created much wincing comedy as he hurled insults at the audience if they didn’t look to be enjoying the show.
In November 2019, I travelled to Aldershot, the army town in Hampshire, a place I had never been before to watch his new show on tour. I had never been to the town before and I had missed his show at the Edinburgh Fringe. As I was walking aimlessly around the town, I saw a lone figure smoking a cigarette outside a hotel and then I approached nearer the figure was Helm who was genuinely delighted to see me, as I was him. He asked, ‘What the f*** was I doing there?’ I replied, ‘I’ve come to see you on tour’. He admitted he had no idea where he as and could I show him where his gig was! We tried to find the venue which wasn’t far and Helm told me to meet him for a drink in the hotel after the show. The show itself was so great to see him back gigging with his threatening style but this time he covered more serious themes of mental health, bullying, depression as well as his love of film and the performance was intelligent, terrifying, relatable, angry and hysterical. After the show I went back to the hotel bar and waited an hour to see if Helm would appear. Sure enough, after forty five minutes of waiting and just as I was preparing to leave, a hand tapped my shoulder and I had two pints with the comedian talking about his comedy career, this blog and his favourite comedian Les Dawson. The time spent with him was invaluable and memorable before I had to dah off and catch the last train back to London.
In December 2019, for the third year, I saw Nick’s Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 5 at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington. The show was a joyous riot with more comedy guests, games, and rock anthems. An example of a superb sketch was Helm’s take on the current Christmas crisp advert that had members of the audience on stage with him eating as many packets of crisps as possible from an open box strewn across the stage. The number of crisps consumed was a hysterical sight and I was crying with laughter. The charity show raises a lot of money every year for charity and is always a brilliant showcase.
2020 was a strange year with everyone in lockdown due to a global crisis. Always Be Comedy produced shows online and in April, August and October of that year, one of the guest headliners was the mighty Helm. In April, broadcasting from his bedroom, Helm looked nervous as he admitted he had not gigged live for a while and the routine appeared to have lots of things going wrong beyond his control. This caused his anger to build to boiling point and create comedy. In May, Helm also online introduced his 2016 concert All Killer, Some Filler live from the 02 Kentish Town from 2016 which was an incredible display of music with his band and some excellent comedy in front of a packed crowd. After the show, Helm did a Q & A which was a fascinating insight into the mind of the comedy genius. I had lost wi-fi connection for the August show so I watched from my 4G mobile phone where Helm commented that I looked like I had been holed up in a dungeon because of the poor light in my room. I was in fact watching him from my Carlisle home! The October show was broadcast from his kitchen where Helm decided to go topless for the performance and covered subjects such as cheese, gyms and going to Glastonbury with his unfortunate friend.
In December, Helm was back at Always Be Comedy Online for A Very Helmy Christmas. Poems, The great man created and drank his Christmas Oyster drink made from eggnog, custard, vodka and mince pie as he talked all things Christmas. He performed his own Rock songs and delivered some inspired poetry in a show that hit the two-hour mark.
Helm is a true original and terrific powerhouse of a comedian.