BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Award-Winning Clown Zach Zucker, creator of the Independent Production Company Stamptown
This Spotlight focuses on Zach Zucker, one half of Norwegian-American comedy duo, Zach & Viggo, who performs as the renowned standup comedian, Jack Tucker. As the creator of the independent production company, Stamptown, Zach has created, performed and produced eight original shows that have toured around the world.Zach's latest solo show as Jack Tucker was a polarizing, character-comedy act that toured across the US, UK, Australia and India, making him the first international comedian at Mumbai's only comedy club: That Comedy Club. He was featured in an article about clowning by Jason Zinoman of The New York Times along with coverage in The Guardian, The Times, Metro and Evening Standard in the UK.
Zach runs and hosts the late-night, variety show Stamptown Comedy Night (www.stamptowncomedy.com), has taught clown workshops and comedy masterclasses around the globe, including The Groundlings, UCB Theatre, and Second City, and is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment in Los Angeles.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Zach Zucker (Zach): Hello everyone! I'm an award-winning clown and producer, I graduated from a theatre school in France called École Philippe Gaulier, and have been touring the international festival and comedy circuit for the past six years. I'm one half of Norwegian-American comedy duo, Zach & Viggo, perform as the renowned standup comedian, Jack Tucker, and am the creator of independent production company, Stamptown.
Since 2015, I've created, performed and produced eight original shows that have toured across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, in cities such as New York, Chicago, Toronto, LA, London, Paris, Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Mumbai, at festivals and venues such as Just For Laughs, Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Comedy Central, Soho Theatre, Second City, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, among others.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?(Zach): Since the virus hit, I've had 56 paid performances and 5 teaching jobs cancelled, including half of the Jack Tucker UK tour (from which I received no money because we did not recoup costs), our full UK/US tour of Zach & Viggo, and our entire Edinburgh Fringe season since the whole festival was canceled. That festival was to feature full runs of three shows I was participating in, as well as fifteen others that I was producing. I also had multiple runs set up in Los Angeles at the Lyric Hyperion, which is where we develop all of the work that we eventually take around the world.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
(Zach): I'm the lead producer on all of the projects that were cancelled/postponed, so I was receiving direct information from venues, festivals and programmers about their decisions. At first, we all thought this was going to be a temporary, two to four-week thing, so most of the conversations were fairly optimistic. We eventually realized that this was going to be a much larger issue than any of us could've imagined, and although none of us wanted this to happen, we all agreed it was best to halt all future plans. It took some festivals a bit longer to cancel, which put the artists in a tough financial spot. But for the most part, everything was handled about as well as it could've been.
(SB): Are plans in place to present those productions at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?(Zach): There have been talks/efforts on both the administrative and creative sides to reschedule cancelled dates, but there is currently nothing on the calendar. Festivals/events in March were looking at October return dates, but as we move into June, those October start dates don't seem too promising.
(SB): That certainly seems to be the case. At this point, I doubt whether the Hollywood Fringe Festival which was postponed from June to October this year will actually get to take place. And since you run your own production company, what future productions on your have also been affected by the shutdown?(Zach): Along with all of the aforementioned tours and seasons that have been cancelled, we were in the middle of pitching a few TV projects - including a comedy special - that have all been put on indefinite hiatus. Networks are still taking pitches over Zoom, but until we have a concrete date for reopening the film industry, or information on when we can have crowds or large gatherings, all of our entertainment prospects have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
(SB): With everything on hold, how are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?(Zach): I run a late-night, variety show called Stamptown Comedy Night that we've been able to turn into a digital, biweekly sketch show during the lockdown. This has been a really fun project for me and my comedy partners because it allows us to work our creative muscles while learning new skills. It's also been a great way for us to stay connected with our fellow collaborators from around the world, as well as introduce our international friends to the LA scene. I've done a handful of livestream/digital comedy shows as well, which obviously isn't my favorite way to do this, but is something that I'm getting used to right now.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?(Zach): We promise to keep on fighting. Nobody knows what's going to happen by end of the year, let alone tomorrow. But I can assure you that every artist that I work with, as well as myself, will continue to find a way to share their work while we navigate this situation. We appreciate everything the community is doing to help and support everyone involved, and we will continue to do everything we can to make sure we all survive and thrive when this is over.
Comedian's Comedian Award, Chortle Awards, Jack Tucker (2020)
Best Comedy Night in London, Chortle Awards, Stamptown Comedy Night (2020)
Top Comedy Pick at Edinburgh Fringe, The Guardian, Jack Tucker (2019)
Top Comedy Pick at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Age, Jack Tucker (2019)
ThreeWeeks Editor's Choice Award, Edinburgh Fringe, Zach & Viggo and Thumpasaurus: Where Does The Love Go (2018)
Best Comedy Award, Adelaide Fringe, Zach & Viggo (2017)
Best Comedy Award, Brighton Fringe, Zach & Viggo (2016)
Critics Choice Award, Brighton Fringe, Zach & Viggo (2016)
Rising Star Award, Edinburgh Fringe, Zach & Viggo (2016)