Thom Tuck is best known as a member of the sketch group The Penny Dreadfuls, who I first saw back at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 when they performed The Never Man, a Bond spoof set on Beef Island which was the best thing I caught at the festival despite seeing a lot of amazing comedy that year. He’s also an accomplished stand up as well though, and Thom Tuck Goes Straight To DVD is based on his live show and radio series from back in 2011 which was specially recorded for GoFasterStripe last year.
Tuck’s not just talking about any old straight to dvd films in the show though but specifically the fifty four sequels to Disney films that never got a cinema release (or Disney STD’s as he amusingly calls them) which he’s watched so no one else will have to do so. Which is pretty kind of him really as I’ve seen a couple and yeesh, they really weren’t fun and I’m a big fan of a fair few Disney films (Beauty And The Beast, Tangled and Zootopia, for the record). Tuck admits a good few are weak but claims many of them have some merit, and it’s his discussion of both elements which makes this show a mostly very likeable hour of comedy.
It’s not just mockery of such films though, throughout the show he talks about the various women who have broken his heart over the years, the two things initially clash a little and there doesn’t seem to be a common theme until the end, but I’ll get to that later. Opening with a brief bit of random stand up (where he talks about his name and how it’s genuinely real and not a stage name and how it sounds like “A minorly evasive surgical procedure”), he then goes on to claim “I don’t really do jokes, let’s find out why” which made me laugh, but it’s also a big old massive lie, as he later acknowledges, he just doesn’t do what you might consider to be normal stand up.
Before launching a proper in to the set he talks about the rules of his epic task (They have to be animated for instance and not cgi as he’s “not watching Tinkerbell for anyone”) and the begins with discussion of the Aladdin sequels, the first of which saw The Simpsons’ Dan Castellaneta doing an impression of Robin Williams “when Robin Williams has been allowed no cocaine”, it’s a strong start, as is his commentary about Bambi 2 (where we learn Patrick Stewart phoned in an appearance, quite literally as he has his own recording studio in his home) and there’s also some very funny commentary on Tarzan 2 and The Lady & The Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure.
He also has some great thoughts about Beauty & The Beast 2 and how horrific it must have been to change from being an object back in to a human being as happens in the movie, and there’s some very amusing stuff about Little Mermaid 2 & 3 and their nonsensical plots. Even better is material about how crazy the Lion King sequels are, with Tuck joking “If The Lion King 1 is Hamlet AND IT DEFINITELY IS…Then Lion King 3 is Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead” and the show hits a peak with some material about how at the end of The Lion King 3 various Disney characters enter a cinema at the end, and how harrowing An Extremely Goofy Movie is.
There is some material on a few sequels which doesn’t really go anywhere though, his bits on Cinderella 3 and Pocahontas 2 being the weakest, and the parts when he talks about his failed relationships is unfortunately also a little patchy. There’s still some great lines, including how one woman he adored once told him “You’re the greatest hugger I’ve ever met. And then some other guff about butterflies”, but other parts disappoint and don’t really have anything that funny within their tales. At the end he makes a comparison of straight to video dvds being a metaphor for his life and there’s an emotional finale which feels slightly unearned, which is a shame as most of the time I’d been enjoying it an awful lot.
Tuck is certainly bursting with charm and the majority of the show is packed with some delightful observations, but a couple aren’t that interesting and rather than include so many of the sequels it might have been better if he’d explored just a couple in further depth. Given the time between the original performance and this recording there’s not really any excuse for it not to have been sharpened up a tad, and it’s a little frustrating as it’s only a 3 and a 1/2 star show when I was hoping for a bit more than that from this clearly very talented man.