Glenn Wool

Glenn Wool

Nominated for best headliner in the 2008 Chortle awards.
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Glenn Wool: No Land's Man DVD

Review by Steve Bennett

The linguistically tricksy title of Glenn Wool’s title refers to the nomadic lifestyle of an international comedian, who currently finds himself homeless in Britain on his return from an ill-fated excursion to become a star in Los Angeles.

But this larger-than-life Canadian is no star – not least in the way Hollywood would have it. He’s a rarer thing, a natural comic; a man never more at home than in some insalubrious dive, spinning tall tales of his life on the road, for the vicarious enjoyment of strangers.

And so this self-confessed mouthpiece of the reprobates finds himself in the subterranean belly of the Leicester Square Theatre, regaling an appreciative crowd with stories from around the world and from within his head.

Nominally, his yarns are hung around an incident at Indonesian customs, when he was led away into the room where the rubber gloves are deployed. But this is a rickety skeleton, as he acknowledges as tacitly as he does his own impressive storytelling skills. There’s both truth and self-deprecation as he boasts of his own talents, a neat trick pulled off with a cheeky wink typical of his self-knowingly preposterous demeanour.

Dressed in more denim than a Status Quo fan convention, Wool starts his show by conjuring up the image of swan rape, and pretty much sticks at that level for the duration. But the baser topics mix well with a healthy serving of astute social commentary and the occasional brilliant turn of phrase. Wool can be devastatingly poetic in his brutality, as irrefutably proved by his brilliant description children of failed relationships.

He shines a light on American puritanism and prejudice – which is always going to go down with any non US crowd – as determined from everything to comedy-club heckles to the way Osama Bin Laden’s body was dumped; a routine that culminates in a typically self-congratulatory note as he pulls off a funny but non-offensive section involving the major religions. It perfectly suits his demeanour of a man with the wide-eyed insight of a stoner, yet grounded in real-life insight and smirking incredulity.

There’s another long but engrossing story about a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Iron Maiden, which is told with typical wicked self-effacing charm, and a more fanciful section about helping out the beavers, which is probably the show’s Achilles’ heal with its surreal diversions.

Yet at its best – which is about three-quarters of the time – No Land’s Man is a fine example of the stand-up’s art; an object demonstration of how to twist stories, emphasise detail and add pointed gags to make an anecdote so much more than the sum of its parts. Most stand-up DVDs are given as gifts; but here’s one true stand-up fans can treat themselves with.

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Published: 3 Dec 2012

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