Review: Born with a Tale (Helder Brum Productions)

Picture of Helder BrumHelder Brum presents his hilarious one-man show at the John Candy Theatre in Toronto

Born with a Tale is a bright and silly one man show highlighting writer and performer Helder Brum’s greatest and most embarrassing moments from childhood mishaps, to young adult shame spirals.

The set is minimal with flickering electric candles peppered throughout the John Candy Box Theatre, giving the space a “back room of a bar” kind of feel. It was the perfect venue for a show about a man’s most intimate moments. The atmosphere is casual and “no-frills”, just a man and his projector.

Helder Brum, the subject of Born with a Tale is every dopey, dreamy-eyed hero-type you’d always hoped would put on a one-man-show. He’s got this innocence and sincerity about him that makes you think “hey…he’s just like me!”I cared about him right from the beginning and I don’t think that’s something many performers can fake. You either have it, or you don’t, and Brum has it. That endearing, eternally likable quality that really gives Zach Braff a run for his money.

Born with a Tale very much feels like a cross between a stand-up set and a MOTH reading. The tone is light, fun and casual, like an unexpectedly entertaining party conversation. The show veers slightly closer to a stand-up set just because it, in my opinion, doesn’t have a clear enough theme connecting his stories nor does it have a beginning, middle and end in the classic sense. It’s more like a one-man-show for the YouTube generation; binge-watching only the funny bits which I didn’t mind at ALL, considering how outrageous his stories are.

His biggest hit is definitely the “tale” of the one-minute fart. When he hits the climax of that story, everyone’s face “lights up” in disbelief and laughter rolls across the room. It’s cringy-humour at its best and the audience is loving it. Brum is the butt of every joke and he takes each punchline like a champ.

As a make-shift finale, Brum screens a full re-enactment of his “saga” in a claymation style movie, which I think fits well into his whole “quirkster” vibe. In the end, I didn’t walk away with a profound message, but I don’t think that was Brum’s intention. He just wants to “get some things off his chest” and luckily these “things” are damn hilarious.

Born with a Tale is chock full of, well, tales that are just way too outrageous to make up and though the stories are incredibly entertaining, they aren’t the only reason why I like the show. It’s the man “behind” the tales that had me sit up and listen.


  • Born with a Tale is playing at the John Candy Box Theatre (99 Blue Jays Way) until February 4, 2018.
  • Shows dates: Saturday January 27th, Sunday January 28th, Saturday February 3rd and Sunday February 4th at 8:30 pm.
  • Tickets are $15 and are available online, by phone by calling 416-343-0011, or in person at the Second City box office before the show.
  • This venue is accessible.

Photo of Helder Brum provided by the company.