An interview with Nick Helm FEATURE

Nick Helm the author of the best joke at this years Edinburgh Fringe brings his bombastic act to The Therapy Room this month. We sent Sifaeli Tesha to quiz him on his being loud, meeting his heroes and to find out something nobody else knew. Well two out of three isn't badů

An interview with Nick Helm

By Sifaeli Tesha

Winner of Best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe 2011, Nick Helm will be appearing at the Therapy Room Comedy Club in the pretty town of Tunbridge Wells, Kent from the 13th-15th December.

Sifaeli Tesha caught up with Nick before his appearance to find out more about the man behind the distinctive voice.

Your distinctive voice gets quite a workout during your sets. Has it ever failed you?

There's a lot of shouting but it's never failed me. When I'm doing comedy festivals with loads of consecutive nights I talk to other comedians who are shocked I don't lose my voice.

It can get a bit raggedy after say nine gigs in a row but you just have to be sensible and rest it between shows.

The worst it got was in Edinburgh when after doing an hour a day I was fine but I had one ten minute set in a dingy room that was really damp with no microphone and it caned my voice but that was more to do with the environment than my act.

Is your loud bullish style an advantage when dealing with people acting up?

If they get the joke it's fine. Sometimes people will see I'm quite loud and they compete for volume. But in any club you'll get a section of the audience who totally get you and sometimes for whatever reason there can be an element that don't get you at all.

It's a bit like birds migrating, the whole flock knows what to do at the same time, sometimes they'll follow you and be on your side and sometimes they won't, there'll always be situations when it doesn't go your way.

Do you find that happens less often the better known you become?

It does help when you get to a gig and people know what to expect. It wasn't that long ago when I was going to clubs and people where just staring at me not knowing what to do. That was only 18 months to two years ago.

These days most people seem to get it but it's not always like that, only last week I had a room full of people just staring at me. It's a good wake up call. You can have a good run of gigs, but all that means is there'll be a tough one around the corner.

As you go through your comedy career meeting more and more people do you ever find yourself star struck?

Yeah all the time. I started doing comedy because I loved it and was a bit of a nerd so anytime I meet someone I grew up watching it's amazing. I remember getting really excited because I was doing a show at the same venue as Jack Dee.

Comedy is quite strange like that. If you wanted to be a millionaire tycoon the chances are you wouldn't get an opportunity to meet Richard Branson or Alan Sugar.

If you want to be a comedian then eventually you will get an opportunity to meet Stuart Lee. If you keep going long enough you will eventually get a chance to meet all of your heroes.

When it goes well that's great but as good as meeting your heroes can be sometimes you probably shouldn't.

Does the old adage about never meeting your heroes apply more or less to comedians?

I don't know. In general comedians get a bad rap. People tend to think in real life they're joyless gits but it's a much smaller percentage than I thought there'd be when I started out.

You've had an incredible year collecting accolades and awards like nobody's business. With your star on the ascent do you get recognised in the street?

So far I've been recognised twice. The first time was a couple of days after I was on Russell Howard's Good News and I thought hello this is a taste of things to come' and then it didn't happen again for about nine months.

So far I've liked it as both people said nice things but when people start coming over and tearing me to pieces then I'm sure I'll have a problem with it.

What's the best thing you've read about yourself true or false?

I'm included in GQ Magazine's 100 Best Things article this month at number 98. Only six other humans made the cut - all Hollywood A-listers - and me. The 100th best thing is a spa in Brussels somewhere and the 99th is a posh pair of gloves.

So I'm ahead of spa and some mittens which is crazy. There was other stuff on the list like a manbag, a lake and a piece of cheese, it doesn't seem real but it did make me laugh seeing the sort of company I'm keeping.

Do you feel you should be further up the list?

No, I thought being the 98th best thing in the whole world according to GQ was enough. Plus I love cheese so if I am going to get beaten by anything I'm glad it's that. But GQ insisted it's not charted in numerical order so I am in fact the joint first best thing in the world. Which is nice to hear (laughs).

There's a fair bit of music in your act. Have you always had a passion for it?

I enjoyed music at school and always liked writing music but it really came into the act because I had to do 20 minutes and I only had 15 so I put in a song to pad my set out and the song went down better than everything else.

So I started incorporating music in my shows and I haven't looked back.

Would you describe yourself as a musician who tells jokes or a comedian who plays music?

My music is rubbish so if I was a musician who tells jokes I'd be a really bad one. I'd say I'm a comedian who does crap songs.

We always like to ask for a little known fact, is there anything we should know?

Little known fact? What have other people said?

Ian Moore is a pickler who makes his own jam and chutney.

A pickler? Wow. Ok, I'm an expert wine taster.



Nick appears at...

Therapy Room Comedy Club
Tunbridge Wells

Dan Evans, Nick Helm, Brett Goldstein and Lloyd Griffith MC

13th, 14th and 15th December at 8.30pm

Tickets 35 includes a two course meal & disco or 16 show & disco only from 08444 884 1133 or :

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