Helmut – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Marc Blake's fictional German stand-up is a stereotypically stern creation who isn’t going to let his utterly humourless personality stand in the way of a comedy career.

With a pair of out-of-place Eighties comedy braces his only concession to the spirit of comedy, he applies ruthless Teutonic logic to old pub gags, undermining their ridiculous set-ups as effectively as John Thomson’s politically-correct Bernard Right-On did 15 years ago.

That said, Helmut does still get away with some dubious-quality jokes you wouldn’t otherwise expect a modern stand-up to use. Blake gets to have his cake and eat it, using the distance a character provides to tell audience-pleasing pub gags, even if they’re not going to win many plaudits from the comedy-literate.

Blake himself falls into that category, having been a finalist in the very first Hackney Empire new act competition a decade or so ago, and a one-time writer for Frankie Howerd. Helmut marks his relatively recent return to the stage after a lengthy sabbatical devoted to writing novels, and teaching a stand-up course at London’s City University.

That depth of experience certainly shows in the performance, that is so perfectly droll with nicely sinister undercurrents. Also in his favour is a wonderfully dry turn of phrase and some wryly deadpan one-liners.

So while Helmut doesn’t yet feel like much more than a one-dimensional character, Blake does well within those limitations.

Review date: 1 Oct 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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