Counts for so much

Comedian Chris Tucker may not know how to structure a coherent 85-minute comedy set (more on that later) but he definitely knows how to make an entrance.

Most comedians enter from stage left or stage right. Saturday night at the Chicago Theatre, with Bruno Mars’ brash “24K Magic” blaring about being a “dangerous man with some money in my pocket,” Tucker burst through the middle of the back curtain in a gold suit coat, black pants and shimmering shoes. With a mic in one hand, he dispatched a solid minute of his signature dance moves before settling in and starting his freewheeling, often rambling, and occasionally repetitive set.

Refresher: Tucker — who has such a uniquely striking voice it’s almost a crime he hasn’t been tapped to voice an animated film yet — is the non-Jackie Chan half of the mismatched buddy cop duo in the hugely successful “Rush Hour” franchise, and originally broke out as the character Smokey in the Ice Cube-scripted stoner comedy “Friday.” While he may have started as a stand-up in the 1990s, he’s undeniably a movie star now.

As his Hollywood status attests (he reportedly earned $25 million for “Rush Hour 3”), Tucker has a presence and a talent that is impossible to deny. Aside from his energetic storytelling style, his impressions — over the course of the night he covered everyone from Barack Obama to Donald Trump to Jesse Jackson — are both subtle and incisive. He’s even better when he’s impersonating singers. Mary J. Blige, Prince and Michael Jackson (a personal friend of Tucker’s, whom he tells a number of stories about), all received remarkable singing/dancing personifications.

But raw talent only goes so far, and Tucker’s set — about half of which previously appeared in his uninspired 2015 Netflix special “Chris Tucker Live” and which he’s likely honing on this tour for a four-night gig in New Orleans next month with Dave Chappelle — has a few major flaws at the moment.

First, because Tucker has a habit of taking a good bit and milking it until the last laugh has been wrung from it — this leads to a good deal of repetition of both the set-up and the punchline of jokes, while with physical comedy it means continuing a given gesture for far too long — he has an inordinate amount of lengthy interludes between bits that absolutely kill the momentum and make the show drag when it need not.

Second, he often didn’t seem completely sure where to go next, frequently mumbling and stumbling over words before finding his footing and pushing on, occasionally after a few false starts. Several times he circled back to previously covered topics abruptly, tacking on additional thoughts that seemed much more likely to hit if they were grouped together with similar material.