Zach Zucker is a playful showman for the Millennial generation. In this blistering, full-blooded hour – taking in physical character comedy, sketches and celebrity impressions – he teases the boundaries of good taste, and isn't afraid to riff off the audience. On the night I attended, a particularly rowdy crowd buoyed the performance, and Zucker found himself getting swept up in the moment; he led us through a seemingly endless stream of “theatre man” characters, which he promised would end once we stopped laughing. The laughs here are used almost as currency in exchange for more material, and Zucker is very acute at homing in on our response and stretching out a joke, until he concedes his improv-brain is spent.
The show is silly, surreal and raw at times; the characters inhabited are fleshed out impeccably, with Zucker possessing the expressive movements of a debauched drama school graduate. For me, the human side of the otherwise flawless Zucker-comedy machine rears its head when the jokes don't land so well – and he pulls the audience back on side with his ad-libbed analysis, like an all-seeing sage overlooking the whole spectacle. In many cases this calls for the appearance of another “theatre man”. I'll be honest; I could quite happily sit through an hour comprised entirely of reincarnations of “theatre men”.
We enter dark places too – directions that even Zucker admits he did not set out to take, yet he just cannot help himself if it pays. This is what's so charming about the set: the audience are almost allowed to dictate where we go next. Almost, because after Zach brought out his audience-requested impressions, it got to the point where he had to rein in a few individuals who got a little too cocky. “You can't be funnier than me,” says Zucker, handling any heckles with style.
Banter with the sound technician is also used to great effect; it's not clear if the techie is genuinely annoyed that Zucker isn't sticking to his allotted script. You can see how much fun Zucker is having, and he is a complete natural on stage.
This is a hilarious riot of free-flowing sketches, performed by a master clown with a big future. But Zach Zucker wants to remind us that beneath the silliness – and beneath his skin-tight lycra two-piece – he is, quite literally, a human person.