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Nick Helm: the ultimate entertainer

As the British Comedy Award-winning star of ‘Uncle’ unleashes his bombastic stand-up on TV in ‘Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment’, we break down why he’s the ultimate showman

 Nick Helm's Heavy Entertainment
© BBC / Ed Moore Nick Helm's Heavy Entertainment
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Helm has… jokes

Well, he is a comedian after all. Nick Helm kicks off his shows with a handful of one-liners to set the mood, and he takes joke-writing seriously. ‘I find inspiration whenever I see a need for laughter,’ he says. ‘In the tears of a child, in the arms of a tired woman holding a sleeping man, or when a duck tries valiantly to save a drowning dog. These are the moments when I realise I can do something to make a change.’

Helm has… songs

Helm’s act doesn’t stop at jokes. His gravel-voiced hard-rock numbers are unfailingly entertaining. How would he describe his singing voice? ‘Perhaps it recalls the gentle caw of the first lark of the morning chorus,’ he reckons. ‘Basically, my voice is like a honey-glazed orchestra of angels jizzing in your ears… to paraphrase Annie Lennox.’

Helm has… dance moves

With music comes dancing, and Helm certainly has the moves – his TV series includes some highly choreographed routines. ‘I worked with a group of professional dancers for a few intensive weeks, and by the end of it they had just about picked up the moves I’d shown them,’ he explains. But don’t expect to see him on ‘Strictly’ any time soon. ‘Dance, for me, is an expression of who I am and what I stand for. I don’t want to cheapen it by turning it into something competitive. Unless, of course, the thing I’m trying to express is that my career is on the skids.’

Helm has… poems

Among the high-energy songs and in-ya-face gags are moments of calm in the form of emotional poems. Helm says his poetical influences are ‘T.S. Eliot, Tennyson, Shelley and Hammer,’ and he’s at his most vulnerable when reciting verse. ‘Each show has been cut from the cloth of my soul,’ he explains. ‘A lot of people are guarded about their feelings and try to keep it all “professional”. I am not one of those people.’

Helm has… sex appeal

Helm’s not afraid to show a bit of flesh – he’ll inevitably strip down to his pants at some stage during his shows. ‘I used to live in fear as to what people thought of me and it inhibited my life,’ he says. ‘Now that I’m older I don’t care. I show some skin in defiance of every single prick that ever called me fat or said I wasn’t good enough. There is not one thing that they can say to make me feel bad about who I am. I am me, and if you don’t like it you can fuck off. Plus, it’s a bit of a treat for the audience.’

Helm has… energy

Above all else, no performer can match Nick Helm for sheer energy. He puts absolutely everything into each performance, and it shows. ‘Most comedians want their act to look slick and effortless,’ he explains. ‘But time and time again I get people coming up to me saying: “Nick, you made that look really, really hard.” I take that as a compliment. I put sweat, blood and tears into my act and I wear that sweat, blood and tears on my sleeve like a badge. A bloody, sweaty, teary badge of honour. It’s fucking hard work and it’s never-ending. I always think maybe I should get into better shape before each of these shows, but then I wouldn’t be out of breath and sweating by the end, so people wouldn’t know how fucking hard I work.’

Nick Helm’s Heavy Entertainment’ starts Tue May 5, 10.30pm, BBC Three

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