Preview: The Week Ahead Feb 16 - 22

Arthur Smith

Nick Helm doesn't exactly like to make things easy for himself. Following the success of Uncle on BBC3 he is returning to the live arena with a vengeance. He has just announced that he is going to do eight "masterworks-in-progress" at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival in May. That's eight different try-outs in seven different rooms – so that he can "scrape together enough good material for his BBC3 show and not look like a total idiot". Though he didn't use the word "idiot".

You can also catch Nick Helm tonight (Sunday) at the Black Heart in Camden Town alongside a fantastic bill including Max & Ivan, Tom Rosenthal, Dan Schreiber, Damien Slash, Orry Gibbens, Ellie White, Patrick Turpin with David Elms as MC. The gig is a fundraiser for New Hat, a short silent comedy film written by David Elms, directed by Matt Holt and produced by Sara Shulman who runs the Comedy Blogedy website. 

Tonight is also the first night of Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen (Vol 2) at the Soho Theatre. Smith is a true comedy legend, but, how can we put this delicately?, sometimes he has been known to coast a little, rest on his laurels and come out with the same old jokes. Which is fine when you only see him once a year but when you see him as much as I do you start to feel you could do the act for him if he failed to turn up or forgot his lines.

But this time round he has really pulled the stops out. ASSLC (Vol 2) is a welcome sequel to an earlier acclaimed show in which he pays further homage to the gloomy Canadian crooner. It's got songs, backing singers, a bit of nudity and a touching through-line in which Smith talks about his mother's slide into old age. Here is my review of the show from Edinburgh last summer.

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