Nick Helm on Dave

I was just flicking through the telly channels when I happened upon Eat Your Heart Out With Nick Helm. Huh? Nick Helm has a food programme now?! Mr Shouty was conversing in French and later showing off his few words in Portuguese, all in lovely mild manner. Hmmm (looks into the distance, head to one side, a hazy wibbly-wobbliness takes us back, back…)

Friday 3rd August 2012, rushed home from work to get to the Pleasance Queen Dome in time for Nick Helm: This Means War. My choice, I just really like the poster, very Flashman/ Rik Mayall’s Bombardier, it worked for me. I had heard he was quite loud, quite loud?! He came on singing a Motorhead song, well, shouting it, then he seriously ripped into some of the audience, boy, was I glad we were well back in the middle of a row. One poor chap ended up on stage peeling spuds and being yelled at for most of the show, but while we felt the fear we enjoyed the show anyway.

I didn’t see Nick Helm again until 2015, well to be fair, in 2014 he only did two nights at the Pleasance Grand at £15 a pop, that’s ’cause he’d made it on to the telly in Uncle. Then in 2015, he appeared on the Free Fringe with a catchy show title, Nick Fuckin’ Helm: My Edinburgh Hour. This time, a young chap at the front who hadn’t clapped and laughed enough was made to sit behind Nick on the stage so that a more appreciative lady could gave the seat, again I was glad to be well back in the crowd! It was another very entertaining show, especially as the venue sound limiter kept cutting out the microphones whenever he sang – it’s not like Nick Helm really needs amplification in a room that size anyway!

So, his new tv show on Dave, well I really enjoyed it. Him and a mate just go places, eat loads of food and meet the chefs who cook it, and he’s quite sweet actually. There were two half hour shows together, the second had Nish Kumar as the buddy, he’s another chap who’s doing rather well these days. I saw him doing McNeil and Pamphilon’s Go 8-Bit back in 2013 and 2014, yes, at the Fringe it was theirs, not Dara O’Briain’s.

More about that later.

 

 

Shine on Elsie Diamond

The end is in sight, this time next week Edinburgh will seem so bare and empty, sigh. So to cheer myself up from the impending gloom I took myself off down to CC Blooms to the exquisite Elsie Diamond in her new one woman show, The Sensible Undresser. I first saw Elsie last year as The Sensible Dresser, where she recounted tales of a dresser in an Opera House who has dreams of being a great singer; some hilarious stories, some bittersweet and a singing voice to raise you up or break your heart, oh, and a finale from Les Mis that really showed her vocal prowess and other charms!

Did I mention Elsie is a burlesque performer? Costumes are put on behind a screen at the side of the stage to be teased off again to music, and give the girl a couple of large feather fans, wowzah! Hubba hubba!

This year’s tale of the Undresser is about Joanne who on seeing a burlesque show decides to become Winnie Sparkletits, from underdog to success to saggy tits to final self-awareness and acceptance (and another astoundingly good final number). The costumes are brilliant (love that headdress), voice as stunning as ever, beautiful, sexy, smart, saucy and charming! All in one delightful package!

Wowzah!

 

 

 

 

A turkey and a Tuck.

Goodness me, it’s the final week already. More shows finished at the weekend, new shows take their places and I have my eye on a few I’m thinking of seeing. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve seen this year’s turkey, its always good to get it out of the way, of course I could yet see another one! So what was this travesty of theatre that deserves the title of turkey?

Oh dear, I can hear my old mother’s voice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” Sorry mother, it was Egg at Bourbon Bar as part of the Free Fringe. It was a packed out room, whether the rest were more up on what to expect, whether it was just their sort of thing I don’t know, but I just found it too pretentiously arty and she was too softly spoken to be heard at times. I try to find something to like about it and from the applause at the end others did seem to like it, though I noticed a number of folk walking past without putting anything in the bucket. Bad form! Only a show one walks out of early is worth nothing, if one is there til the end it’s worth at least some spare change or my usual is a fiver.

At the other end of the Fringe spectrum, I seriously enjoyed Thom Tuck’s show An August Institution, at 3pm at the Dragonfly. A wonderful hour of silliness and a rather bizarre make-over, I suspect those who got a lot out of Egg, may not appreciate Mr Tuck’s humour.

Well, I’ve enjoyed it since I first saw him in the Penny Dreadfuls’ Aeneas Faversham back in 2006, bloody excellent show it was! Saw them each year after that and when they all did solo shows. Thom was the one who continued to come up each year to do a variety of shows, including on the Free Fringe. His show one year even got enlongated into a short series on Radio 4! I saw his Scaramouche Jones in 2015 which delighted and moved me (it’s in my diary for 2025). Yes, I reckon he’s become an August Institution and long may he remain so!

The Squirrel Show

Back as a young student my friends and I would explore the pubs of Edinburgh and occasionally even speak to the locals, this one particular group of lads were noteable by their pronunciation of my friend’s name, “No, it’s Philippa”,”Yeah, Phulupuh”, “No, you’re saying Phulupuh”, “Yeah, that’s what you’re saying”,”No we’re saying Phil e pah, not Phulupuh”, and so it went on and on. We also noticed that here girls were girruls and films were fillums, oh, and in Chippies we had to say very quickly if we didn’t want sa’n’sauce on our chips as they were usually putting it on as they asked.

On a few years and I realised if someone was talking about Dawn, they were probably talking about Don. It did explain a few things about the stories I’d heard about her/him. Then with Bud there was the long-running “khaki/car key” debate, apparently I say it like “car key” which is not the same as “khaki” at all according to Bud, who, of course, was always supposedly correct.

So the Squirrel Show was water off a duck’s back to me, been there, done that and got the t-shirt. I had no idea what the Squirrel Show was, but I saw it mentioned on Facebook that Mark Steel, Will Seaward and John-Luke Roberts were appearing, among many others, and it was a one-off for charity, hey ho, why not?

The whole premise is to help the comedian Chris Coltrane to say “squirrel” properly instead of “squirle”, one audience member went down the Sesame Street route, patiently separating the syllables to join them again, bet she’s a teacher. Some audience members were almost apoplectic (I really couldn’t decide if they were plants to keep it going), and all the other comedians were not helping the situation. John-Luke Roberts was surreal as ever, rushing the stage and dancing every time Walking On Sunshine came on, I did miss the first five minutes but I doubt there was any explanation there. Will tried his best to tell the tale of Big Squirrel and Little Squirrel while being heckled. And, wow, they had Mark Steel to headline, as you would expect he gave a funny but insightful monologue, pure genius!

Apparently, this has been going a few years now. Well worth catching next year, unless mispronunciations drive you insane, on the other hand, it would be fun to take along that friend who’s always correcting others – just light the blue touchpaper and stand well back!