Zach Zucker: Human Person

There is a cheap trick you can play on anyone you care to. Ask them to think of a number, any number, and no matter what they guess, tell them you were thinking of a different one. Take this concept and turn it into a comedy show, and you have one leg of the stool that is Zach Zucker's Human Person. You finish his sentences, and participate in his games of charades, at your own peril. He is Lucy, you are Charlie Brown, and he is repeatedly placing the football in front of you, sweetly promising that, this time, he will not snatch it away just as you are about to kick it.

It could be off-putting, but Zucker works hard from the very start of the show to include the audience in on the joke. He is warming the crowd before they are even seated, gradually drawing the audience in through his impressive talent for silly faces while posed as a fidgety angel affixed to an imaginary crucifix. And where a lot of his comedy is built upon cringe theatrics and an over-commitment to absurd character work, he knows when to break the tension with a wink, or a smile, or a touch of practiced self-deprecation, as if in order to clue the audience in on the secret that, yes, he does in fact realise that what he is doing is very very silly.

Human Person is ultimately comedy about play. Improvisational play, of course, but also play with words and concepts, misdirection and repetition. It is surrealism of the “ceci n'est pas une pipe” variety, but it's also just a collection of silly bullshit that seems to resonate with punters. The show in question that was performed late on a Sunday night, to the weirdly-stratified demographic that such a timeslot tends to attract, and Zucker was able to get everyone on board laughing with his diva antics, gross-out gags and gonzo deforestation sketch. The laughs weren't always constant, but they were loud and deep, and with the right crowd this is easily a show that could earn full marks.

★★★★½