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Review: Jack Tucker's 'Comedy Standup Hour' is frenetically funny

★★★½

The first thing one notices about Jack Tucker is his truly dishevelled appearance; his pants are tucked into his underwear, his shirt is dirty, his hair completely unstyled.

Tucker enters the room like a wrestler to a ring, announcing his arrival and providing a soundtrack for the show’s opening moments. His entrance is the theme song of the 1970s: ‘American Woman’ by Guess Who. As it played, he stumbled about the stage, his penchant for physical comedy evident by his fist-pumping and swinging the microphone in a comically exaggerated manner.

From the crowd burst two audience members, one with a golden trophy, which they presented to Tucker on bended knee, the other taking photos of the presentation. This award ceremony would repeat throughout the night. After Tucker told a joke he considered to be particularly noteworthy, 'American Woman' would play loudly and abruptly.

The second thing of note about Tucker is his accent. He speaks with a New York accent so strong, so exaggerated, so charming, that he makes Bill Burr’s accent sound downright neutral. If he sounds absolutely cheesy, it’s because he is. He perfectly parodies bad stand-up comedians, so well in fact that he apparently inspires walkouts at many of his shows, though this audience were nothing if not happy to be there. He mumbles in an unintelligible manner, poorly delivering jokes to a soundtrack of bad sound effects like a low-quality radio program. Whenever he swears, the profanity is bleeped out, yet the beep itself comes comically late after the actual cuss words.

Tucker carries himself with an almost manic energy. His physical presence and pacing do, at times, seem all over the place as if without rhyme or reason. Though this rapid-fire approach kept things interesting, the frenetic pace meant he didn’t always stay with a topic long enough to make an impact.

Tucker is without a doubt at his best when interacting with the audience. Though it was a small crowd, he consistently brought the lights up to properly engage with each member. Early in the night, he asked for my name in relation to a joke and remembered it throughout the show, finishing jokes with “ain’t that right, Claire?” much to my, and the audience's, amusement.

On paper, perhaps it doesn’t land, but the moment of absurdity when he forces his audience to be creative and interactive stands out amongst a night of utter madness and is what made Tucker such a pleasure to spend an hour with. I’d highly recommend that you do so, too.

Highlight: Filming the crowd singing 'Happy Birthday' to his son, Joey.

Lowlight: Explaining Australia’s many leadership spills to Tucker mid-show. Don’t ask.

Crowd Favourite: Any time his New York drawl tackled Australian issues.

Jack Tucker's Comedy Standup Hour runs on Friday April 19 and Saturday April 20 as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival.