Monkey Barrel 4, Blair Street
Zach Zucker isn’t entirely new to me (I saw him in 2018’s Where Does the Love Go?, in partnership with Viggo Venn), but he’s clearly much more familiar to the crowd packed into the sweltering confines of the Monkey Barrel. When he asks, ‘Who has seen me before?’ a large contingent shouts an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ He launches into an opening song, his glitter shirt open to the waist, as he works through a series of Travolta-like moves to the sound of a keyboard accompaniment. The fact that the ceiling is mere inches above his head gives the impression that at any moment, he could smash headlong into it, but he manages to get through it without serious injury. Phew!
And then, abruptly, he’s into the stand-up routine and, it has to be said, his confidence is not misplaced. The crowd loves him. A guy sitting in front of me is at serious risk of falling off his chair.
It’s apparent from the word go that Zucker is supremely charismatic, able to ignite belly laughs with the merest sideways glance or throwaway gesture. Some comedians are funny because they have good. material and others because they are just funny in their bones. Zucker falls into the latter category and I cannot deny that he soon has me laughing like a maniac, particularly at the extended routine where he attempts to read a ‘serious’ poem in a weird approximation of a London accent. There’s also comedy gold to be found in the bit where he offers to improvise a rap about three random suggestions from the audience…
But, in a profession where content is king, this does feel increasingly like a sixty-minute slot that’s only got forty minutes worth of material to fill it. Zucker’s tendency to free form and ride on his audience’s evident enthusiasm occasionally feels a bit like repetition. Perhaps Spectacular Industry Showcase (I love the self-aggrandising title) is a work in progress and, over the Fringe run, he’ll add more substance to the pot. I really hope so. It won’t take more than a few extra belters to turn this promising show into a triumph.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for laughs, make no mistake – you’ll certainly find them here.