Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and star of BBC’s acclaimed ‘Uncle’ Nick Helm is performing at Grotto at the HoHo Theatre tonight with a full band in what promises to be an amazing spectacle.
He took some time off from preparing to answer some of our Christmas questions
If you could design a Christmas jumper what would you have on it?
There are a lot of ironic Christmas jumpers these days that have stuff on them that’s not even associated with Christmas like Batman or Freddy Krueger or Estelle Getty. I mean even I’ve just bought an Alice Cooper Christmas jumper, so maybe I’d break the trend and have something actually Christmassy on it for a change, like the Baby Jesus and Three Wise Men and Mary and Joseph and a camel and an angel all in a queue outside Marks and Spencers on Boxing day trying to return stuff that they got but didn’t fit properly. You know a classic nativity scene. Really bring back what it’s all about.
What date do you put up the Christmas decorations in your house and how far do you go?
I haven’t had any Christmas decorations of my own in a few years I guess. I was going to get a tree this year, but I don’t really have enough decorations to justify it. I live alone and if I did get a tree I can quite easily see myself not getting round to throwing it out and it still being in my living room by Easter. What I do have is a deer skull mounted on my wall with antlers and I have placed baubles and tinsel on that. I have also received two Christmas cards which sit on my mantelpiece rather pathetically.
Christmas has been associated with a lot of classic comedy moments, from Morecambe and Wise to The Royle Family. What are your Christmas comedy memories?
I remember one year trying to get my family to watch Harry Hill’s Christmas TV Burb as something safe that the whole family could watch and enjoy. My Mum and sister outright refused. They said they couldn’t stand him and it looked like we were going to just sit around the TV for another three hours arguing over what to watch instead. In the end I convinced them to let me put it on anyway. They begrudgingly agreed and they all shut up and sat in silence, sulking. Then one by one they started laughing and after about three minutes we were all in hysterics (we’d been drinking) and everyone stopped complaining and Christmas wasn’t cancelled. Turns out they’d never actually watched Harry Hill before and had just assumed he wasn’t their cup of tea. It was a nice moment and it was one of the rare times that I managed to unite my family with my own tastes.
What is the worst present you have received at Christmas?
My dad got me this mud green angora sweater once. It was really flamboyantly fluffy and it had an odd design where the arms didn’t quite match up with the body and there was sort of a large colour that stuck up around the neck like a suit of armour. It was disgusting. Horrible colour. Horrible design. Horrible wool. Didn’t fit. My dad looked at me hopefully, but I told him exactly what I thought of it and said I would never wear it and blah, blah, blah. Ungrateful dick. Anyway that year I moved to Brighton and I lived in an attic room that had no heaters. You could see your breath every time that you breathed out. It was so cold that the vinyl in my record collection snapped. I wore that jumper every day that winter. I even slept in it. Thanks Dad.
What’s your suggestion for a Christmas cracker joke?
Umm. Make it funny I guess.
Are you looking forward to performing in such a unique space as The Grotto of comedy?
I can’t wait to do the gig really. It’s my last thing of the year, so after its done I am officially on holiday for a bit. Its been quite a hectic year so I’m desperate for a little rest. As for the Grotto, it’s an amazing venue. One of the most interesting and unique and beautiful venues I’ve been lucky enough to perform in. I did a short film there last year called Santageddon which Matt Highton directed so I’ve not seen it converted for an audience yet, but Bob Slayer has been putting on loads of stuff there this Christmas with some of the best acts in the country so it’s an honour to finish off the season for him.
What’s the strangest location you’ve performed in previously?
I’ve gigged everywhere. Primary schools. Up a mountain. Night Clubs. Caribbean Restaurants. Oxfam Books. The night I run, Helm’s Angels, was pretty strange at first. We would perform downstairs in a restaurant in a room that was a thoroughfare for the toilets. Diners would literally be streaming in and out through the audience throughout the show because there was only one toilet upstairs for the entire restaurant. We moved rooms eventually, but we’re currently looking for another venue.
We will be raising lots of money for Shelter this year – An estimated 100,000 children thought to be homeless in the UK this Christmas. Discuss!
I just did Celebrity Mastermind this year and raised £3000 for Shelter so it’s a charity close to my heart. I also gig for Centre Point fairly regularly and have done some things for Crisis. One Christmas I went round a bunch of homeless shelter’s in London with some other comedians and we did a series of gigs for the people that were staying there. I don’t know if we made things better, but we hopefully at least gave them a distraction for a bit. I try and help whenever and wherever I can, but its frustrating. I don’t understand how in the 21st Century in one of the world’s richest and most powerful countries we can say we’re doing everything we can to help when there is such a huge number of homeless people living on the streets. It breaks my heart and it should be a huge source of shame for us and the Government should be doing more to help instead of making the situation worse by bombing other countries.