Nick Helm has been one of the most exciting live acts on the circuit for many years, bringing aggression, desperation and shouting to those lucky enough to see him.
In recent months, the BBC have become fans, with “Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment” featuring on the iPlayer as part of the broadcaster’s Comedy Feeds project. On top of that, he’s set to appear in a BBC sitcom “Uncle”, after a successful pilot on Channel 4.
Somehow Nick has found time to put together an Edinburgh show and thankfully he was able to give us the lowdown.
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Hey Nick, how are things?
Things are okay at the moment. Just trying to finish off my show before heading up to Edinburgh.
How excited are you about the fringe this year?
I would describe it more as nervously waiting for the festival to start. I have quite a big show this year with lots of intricate elements and because of this I haven’t been able to fully preview it yet. So the first show on Wednesday 31st will be the first time it has ever been performed in its entirety. It can be pretty scary and stressful and there tends to be a few days of creaking as it snaps into place, but it’s been the same for the last three years so I try to remember that every time I peer over the precipice.
What’s “One Man Mega Myth” all about?
One Man Mega Myth is essentially a cautionary tale about the dangers of seeking fame and fortune. But it’s really just an excuse for dicking around for an hour.
Also is that a custom made jumpsuit you’re wearing on it?
Yes. My Mum made it. My Mum has made my Edinburgh costumes since a sketch show I wrote in 2001. My dad makes bits of set and props for me. Last year he made my wooden legs that I strapped on my back for my song ‘Soar’ and my Mum made the cape. I see it as a family business. They see it as a sweatshop.
You have been going to Edinburgh for a couple of years? Which year has been your favourite and why?
I think my favourite year was either 2001 when I took my first show up or 2009 when I did a show called ‘Bad Things Happen In Trees’ at the Free Fringe. Or 2008 when I did my musical ‘I Think, You Stink!’. 2001 was great because it was my first show that I had written and I took it up with some friends. It was totally overwhelming, but that was really the moment when I first realized this was what I wanted to do. 2009 was great because the show sort of materialized out of necessity and then through word of mouth it got bigger and bigger audiences until about a week in it was standing room only. It totally surprised me and came out of nowhere and I made money everyday, which was a first. I bought some shoes because the shoes I was wearing had holes in them. The musical in 2008 was my favourite show, but no one came to see it. It was a B Movie tribute, sketch, musical, which probably sounds shit, but it was lovely and I was really proud of it. I want to tart it up and do it again one day soon.
What’s the most annoying or frustrating thing about doing the fringe?
Just constantly being on the look out for somewhere to sit down, somewhere to eat, something to drink, somewhere to hide, somewhere to cry. When I wake up in the morning I stay in bed for as long as possible, because once you’re up in Edinburgh that’s you up for the day. You get up at 10am and then you’re usually out till 4am the next day and you’ve walked 16 miles and you don’t know what your name is any more. And then you do that 28 days in a row. It’s ridiculous.
Do you have any Edinburgh traditions? Ours include eating a baked potato every day and trying to find places to recycle the flyers we are given.
Once a year I have a King Rib meal from The City Café. I also tend to drink Tennents when I’m up there too. I always go and see Gareth Richards as well.
What’s the best advice to give a comic going up to do an Edinburgh show for the first time (i.e. Me)?
Just relax and enjoy it and do it because you want to do it. It’s pretty straightforward. Edinburgh can be stressful and overwhelming and heart breaking and disappointing and soul destroying, but that tends to come when you want something else out of it. If you’re doing it because you love it then anything good that comes out of it is a bonus.
We really enjoyed “Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment”, how was it for you?
I loved doing it. It was a lot of fun. It came off the back of the Radio ONE Christmas Show I did last year. That went well and then in late January the BBC asked me to do a TV pilot. I hadn’t really given it much thought up till then as I was working on some other stuff, but I basically had about five weeks to put the show together before the end of the tax year. Having such a tight deadline was quite liberating really as there wasn’t any time to sit around day dreaming like I usually would, I had to make split decisions like what the set and costumes would look like, what material I would use etc. and it came together relatively painlessly. Plus I was uncharacteristically not nervous at the actual recording which if anyone knows me they know that I can barely put a sentence together before I get on stage, so that was a bonus.
Have you got any other projects coming up that you can tease us with? Is “Uncle” coming back?
Uncle is filming in the Autumn and should be on TV in early New Year and I have a few other things on the boil at the moment. I am also planning on doing another album over the next year, because I enjoyed doing the last one so much. Lots of stuff in the pipeline, just let’s get Edinburgh out of the way first.
Finally, here’s a space to write about whatever you want, go for it…
Nick Helm: One Man Mega Myth
Jul 31 – Aug 26, 4.00pm
£7 – £14