Comedian Jack Tucker knows how to make an entrance. He bursts out of the curtain full of rock star swagger accompanied by the sounds of Lenny Kravitz American Women. He even comes out into the crowd to high-five random audience members before heading back to the stage only to fall flat on his face — a humiliating start.
Or it would be if Jack Tucker were not the comic creation of stand-up Zach Zucker. And this wasn’t one of the many moments where Zucker sets Tucker up to fail.
The opening does, however, let us know what we are in for which is a madcap, sound effect heavy, hyper-kinetically paced hour of character comedy. Tucker we learn is a failing ‘Noo-Yoik’ club comic who thinks he is a superstar. He looks like a version of a 70s comedian in full suit but with greasy hair, tie askew and boxer exposed. His material is of a more recent vintage though playing like a riff on the hyperactive, hyper-masculine Dane Cook-style comic of the early-mid 00s.
It goes without question playing a lousy comic is always a tightrope act; a fine line between doing routines parodying rubbish material and just doing rubbish material. A line that Zucker generally stays the right side of, however, there are some routines and riffs that fall into the latter category such as a bit where he is explaining his love of a certain expletive, and his joy at its more liberal use in Scotland.
The key strength of the performance is less the material, and more Zucker’s clowning as his pratfalls and his perfectly (mis)timed reactions to the cornucopia of sound effects he uses are hilarious although the barrage of wackiness can get a bit wearing at times. One of the highlights is a run series of “sad moments” where Tucker gives us some melancholic monologues complete with sad music. The crescendo to this is a faux-inspirational theatrical monologue which closes the show. Poking fun at comedy shows needing emotional content to win awards seems to be fast becoming a trope itself. But it is well worked into the show here.
At times watching Jack Tucker: Comedy Stand-Up Hour you feel you are watching a true comedic tour-de-force. At others, though it does feel like you are supposed to be laughing at the exact sort of crude, sexist gags the character is supposedly pastiche-ing. Not that the majority of the crowd tonight would agree as they loved it all and gave him a standing ovation.