Glenn Wool: Where Is Hell?

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

With cowboy hat and porn-star moustache, Glenn Wool certainly looks the part of the distinctive outcast. Shame, then, that his inspiration doesn’t come from a more individual place.

Church is bad and encourages intolerance, magic mushrooms are good and broaden your mind, all drugs should be legalised – it’s a supposedly seditious mantra as fashioned by Hicks, Kinison and Carlin before him. Nowadays, though, it plays like a rebel teenager who believes he’s the first to discover what everyone else figured out a long time ago.

‘Sorry if that offends you,’ he tells the audience at least once as he plays up his supposedly edgy image. ‘You’re so going to hate this’. But offence is unlikely – this is a liberal arts festival, not Jesusville, Missouri, and everyone’s familiar with this standpoint, and most broadly agree with it, or at least tolerate it.

But Wool does do this shtick particularly well, especially in a teasing performance partway between sleaze and seduction. As he delivers his lines in his well-timed Canadian drawl, he perpetually plays coquettishly with his unkempt hair and laughs demonically and defiantly to himself whenever a joke falls flat.

And despite the tiredness of supposedly countercultural stance that ‘I like drugs, and you should too,’ Wool does manage to take the arguments into new an unusual places, at least some of the time. His creative way of funding pension plans through drug use is a good example, his ‘imagine being a suicide bomber on mushrooms’ routine less so.

Also, when he widens his sights to a global view, things get a lot more interesting. Pulling back from the Al Qaeda topical material to drop the threat of China into the equation unleashes a brilliant, and very funny, train of thought. It’s proof that he really shines when he takes a turning off the easy route.

But whatever he says in the first 55 minutes of the show, it’s the truly unexpected finale that will stick with you. His audiences are sworn to secrecy, and I wouldn’t dream of blow the secret here, but it is a raucous climax that you will be talking about for weeks to come.

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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