Here’s a good place to be: in the front row of a sweating crowd with comedian Glenn Wool screaming at the audience. It will be bloody hot in that room, but the jokes are set up and knocked over with such startling precision that you’ll happily sit out the heatwave.
Wool’s schtick is a little from here and little from there, perhaps cleverly adding a second meaning to his aptly titled 2012 show No Lands Man. While the title actually references his no-fixed-address status, Wool manages to crowbar a delightfully workable structure into his routine. It allows him to sweep his paintbrush through topics such as sex with swans, getting anally probed at customs, drinking Belgian beer, seeing Iron Maiden live, and getting angry about the productivity of beavers in a 20-minute spiel. Such a runsheet may not make sense in summary, but within Wool’s show it all seems to fit together in a routine only a good comedian can establish so roundly. And yes, it really is possible to structure an entire show around one overarching, recurring concept and still have the show be consistently, laugh-out-loud funny.
If you’re deaf, Wool is also the perfect comedy candidate, because he spends a large portion of the show yelling loudly at the audience. That’s not to say that this delivery doesn’t work, because Wool’s a specialist on the comedy genre hereafter called ‘pent-up-guy-rage’; the type that occurs when you feel that beavers work harder than you do, or when Indonesian customs officials are threatening to stick digits up your behind.
Wool works the usual smutty jokes, but he makes his show interesting by way of his numerous and strangely complex metajokes; sometimes his one-liners are so quick, or so layered, that it’s hard to keep up and really does put paid to his claim of working in the industry for 18 years. Under all that loud-mouthed yelling machismo, I feel as though Glenn Wool is a giant softie, susceptible to more strenuous airport security primarily because he looks like a roadie and has a tendency to compare customs officers to beagles. Wool could also comprehensively decimate most people by sheer force of decibels. No Mans Land may need a volume touch-up, but a tightly honed structure and deceptively clever undercurrent override minor audio objections. For a guy who officially has no fixed address, Glenn Wool makes stand-up comedy look a little like coming home to an old friend.
Glenn Wool in No Lands Man is on Tuesday – Saturday at 9:30pm and Sunday 8:30pm at the Melbourne Town Hall, from 29th March – 22nd April.
Siobhan Argent has her own blog called ReviewMania.