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Glenn Wool: Let Your Hands Go - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Here’a a man in complete command of the stage, and his material. Part playful, part polemic, Glenn Wool tackles the big issues with a preacher’s zeal but a gagster’s love of the punchline.

You might easily underestimate him from his appearance and demeanour of a Canadian wastrel with porn-star moustache and little interests beyond beer, Xbox and the fine work of AC/DC.

But he combines drop-out sensibilities with a strong intellect, compelling logic and mischievous fun. The sharp-suited bankers have had their day in the sun and failed catastrophically. It’s time, he argues, for people like him to have a shot at running the world.

Why not? He speaks a lot of sense on the failings of the entire capitalist system, not just laying it at the door a few greedy white-collar crooks, but without overt moralising or exuding an air of smug superiority. He’s just a regular Joe who idly ponders the existence of Smurfs – and if even he can figure out the big issues, so should we.

He takes on the big cornerstones of religion and racism, and the ridiculous idea of the right not to be offended: again packing a definite message, but not getting over-preachy. It’s just common-sense. On advertising, for instance, he doesn’t follow the Bill Hicks line that it’s inherently evil – but Iggy Pop flogging insurance, somehow that’s just not right. Many comics will have commented on that fall of an idol, but it’s fresh in Wool’s capable hands.

All this big-ticket stuff is rooted in the mundane by the through-line of the whole hour: the story of him waiting 45 minutes for a girl to come around after receiving the ‘booty call’ and imagining all manner of scenarios to explain the delay. That might not be not the most obvious hook for material about the global industrial complex, but it acts as a humanising balance to the political material, presented as digression.

He works the wooden Bosco tent like a charm, engaging the audience because he has something to say, and an easy confidence in saying it. He has conspiratorial attitude – as if we are all secretly being let in on the truth about the world – combined with an expressive face, conveying guilt, glee, bemusement or cheekiness in the subtlest of gestures.

With this being his seventh solo show, Wool has almost become part of the Edinburgh furniture, a familiarity which means he isn’t always counted among the hot talked-about acts. But he is an accomplished comic on scintillating form, delivering fresh laughs and thoughtful ideas – and you can’t want for much more than that.

Review date: 23 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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