Review: Nick Helm, Soho Theatre

Nick Helm

The usual thing to say about Nick Helm, who won Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist at the British Comedy Awards last night, is that while his audience participation style is intimidating, the joke is on him. Helm’s stand-up persona is the tragic loser, taking it out on his crowd by bellowing in their faces or getting them up onstage.

Compared to his previous shows, Merry Christmas Motherf**kers! feels, despite the aggressive seasonal title, virtually benign. The only fan he dragoons into joining him is handed a stocking full of goodies and a hot drink. Helm peppers his set with hard rock tunes but is also soft-centred.

There is a distinct hint of sentimentality as he recalls Yuletides past, with his father making him fancy-dress costumes out of cardboard boxes. He has less sympathy for modern consumerism, when one has to adopt the “opening present face” to fake one’s delight at an unwanted gift.

Helm is joined in his current show by a pair of dancing elves and fellow comedian David Trent on heavy metal guitar. If the infectious melodies are the glue that holds the set together, the poetry almost pulls it apart as Helm delivers some deliciously awkward verse about his thwarted relationships.

Maybe the Christmas spirit has got to him but even the finale was kinder than usual. Previous shows have closed with Helm in just his pants. Here he stripped to a tasteful red onesie.

For those who have never experienced this comedy monster at full tilt this is a great entry level event. For those that have seen him at his wildest this is still terrific fun, if a little controlled.

A version of this review appeared in the Evening Standard here.

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