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'Nick Helm is fucking amazing.' His words, not mine. Although they did leave my lips, having been forced to chant the phrase for a good few minutes at the start of Helm's 'One Man Mega Myth'. He might not live up to his own bold claim of being 'the most beloved comedian of his or any generation', but he is pretty fucking amazing.
This year, the '22-year-old' (he'd like us to believe) comic is in a larger venue, with a bigger set and more ludicrous props (just wait till you see the piece of machinery he drags out during one of his dad-rock numbers). The Helm character is still aggressive, sweary, shouty and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. But there's a deeper emotional edge to him this year, and he’s (slightly) less intimidating.
Helm – donning a white motocycle jumpsuit – states that the show is a tribute to Evel Knievel. But really 'One Man Mega Myth' deals with Helm's relationship with the Fringe itself, and 'being taken for granted by an industry that knows fuck all'.
If this all sounds a bit in-jokey, never fear. The festival-specific jokes are only lightly sprinkled, and you don't need to know who Chris Ramsey or David Trent are to howl with laughter during the gravel-voiced comic’s beautifully accurate 'cocksucker' analogy (a particular highlight of the hour).
In his 2011 show – beaten to the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award by Adam Riches, who’s pictured during an 'award losses' montage – part of the fun was feeling trapped in a tiny portacabin with the bellowing stand-up. In a room the size of Pleasance Fourth, that atmosphere is impossible. But Helm's now mastered playing bigger rooms, and replaces the exhilarating feeling of unease with epic rock show-style effects or quiet, heartbreaking confessions.
It might have taken him '15 years to become an overnight success', as he jokingly tells us, but we won't be surprised if Helm is calling people cunts in massive arenas before too long. He's a true comedy daredevil.
See 'Nick Helm – One Man Mega Myth' at the Edinburgh Fringe