Review: For ‘Jack Tucker,’ Failure Is the Only Option

Review: For ‘Jack Tucker,’ Failure Is the Only Option

In one in all his most quotable lyrics, Bob Dylan sang a few lady who is aware of “there’s no success like failure/ And that failure’s no success in any respect.” She clearly by no means noticed the comedy of Jack Tucker.

With sweaty insecurity, Tucker steps on his punchlines and clanks the setups. His tech malfunctions. When he sketches the acquainted hourglass form within the air to attract consideration to a lady’s determine, he finally ends up trying like a hen. His crowd work ends in despair. On the uncommon event when he lands a joke, he celebrates by having a co-worker take a photograph, however one thing all the time destroys the shot.

As performed by Zach Zucker, in a raucously humorous portrait of a catastrophically dim stand-up comedian, Tucker fails in bunches, in amount and high quality, flopping so quick you may miss some errors. Just whenever you suppose he can’t stumble once more, he does. And it’s a triumph.

Not since “The Play That Goes Wrong” have I seen errors this meticulous. Zucker, who skilled with the French guru Philippe Gaulier, doesn’t simply pratfall and malaprop. He finds new methods to get laughs from spilled beer, a collection of variations on a splash that result in a drunkenly enjoyable name again.

“Jack Tucker: Comedy’s Standup Hour,” written by Zucker and directed with a agency consideration to element by Jonny Woolley, is the most recent solo present to emerge out of the burgeoning scene that options comics like Natalie Palamides, Courtney Pauroso, Alexandra Tatarsky and Bill O’Neill. (O’Neill’s acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe present “The Amazing Banana Brothers” is onstage at SoHo Playhouse tonight and Wednesday.) As the host of Stamptown, a bicoastal showcase for a lot of of those artists, Zucker has been on the heart of this motion. It’s a youthful era than the brand new vaudevillians like Bill Irwin and David Shiner, however this group has the identical inventiveness, ambition and dedication to respiration new life into outdated shtick. But their work is extra visceral and topical. (If anybody’s moonlighting at Cirque du Soleil, I’d be stunned.)

Clowns and stand-ups are likely to function in several circles, so this present could possibly be seen as a shot from one camp to the opposite. And within the voice of Tucker, Zucker does float numerous hack stand-up premises — some swaggering, others oblivious, like “I assume women and men are totally different in spite of everything.” As satire, this present is toothless. It’s far too stylized to mount a stinging critique, and its one-disaster-after-another construction dangers turning into repetitious. But the surprises are within the kind, not the content material.

What makes his present stand out from these by different deliberately unhealthy comics like Gregg Turkington’s Neil Hamburger is how its intricate sound design evokes an absurdist nowhere. You can hear the affect of Tim & Eric. Loud, annoying rock songs, gunshots and air horns crowd up almost each second. Barely a second passes with no sound impact — not solely beefing up a joke, however usually working in opposition to it. Zucker retains asking if his microphone works after each joke that flops.

As the present unravels, Zucker begins describing his marriage in a dutiful try at getting actual. But if something, he simply turns into extra summary. Struggling to align his gags with the music, Jack Tucker begins to appear much less like a comic book bombing than a personality trapped in a damaged online game, an individual turning into pixels and static.

Jack Tucker: Comedy Standup Hour
Through April 13 at SoHo Playhouse, Manhattan; Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes.



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