When Glenn Wool took to the stage he looked like a washed-up trucker replete with faded Nirvana top, leather waistcoat and a frequently adjusted cap who you could imagine having a beer with in a bar off a lay by. But when the cards are on the table he makes himself more of a preacher figure, raging against the horrors of the modern day and shaping his material toward a final redemptive message.
An enjoyable set performed by a radiantly warm stand up who will make you feel like Christmas has come early
Luckily, he has the charisma and physical presence to convert the congregation to his own dark brand of humour. It’s hard to describe, but when he laughed it was with a genuine joy and I can’t put it any other way than that his eyes sparkled. This had the effect of making him seem like a brunette Father Christmas, relishing his self-confessed ‘darker’ jokes with the childish glee of a kid whose been naughty all year but still gets his Christmas presents.
For a show ostensibly about the last two years of his life the set suffers slightly from undermining the emotional crescendo it otherwise succeeds in creating by an overly long conclusion which seeks to justify the need for dark humour in modern society. The dark humour that featured in the set itself was, after all, fairly standard fare – the usual suspects were in attendance, including jokes about paedophilia, the catholic church, and incest; all were lined up gleefully by Wool, inevitably accompanied by his irresistibly wicked grin. Such material could have felt quite tired were it not for his warm delivery and evident excitement that made you feel like a child huddled in a playground hearing them for the first time, trying to stay out of earshot from the nearest teacher.
However, such a feat would be made more difficult by the nature of his rich baritone voice which easily filled the venue, reducing the mic in his hands to a meaningless prop that often got left behind at his waist when he stormed about the stage venting his exasperation at ‘everything that is wrong with society’. This soapbox section of the set, which railed against such ‘snowflake’ comforts of trigger warnings, was more suited to a slightly older age demographic as millennials took a bit of a hitting. But this didn’t grate as much as the overlong justification of previous jokes and the general need for comedy to say the things you wouldn’t dare to. Certainly, this is important and Wool makes his case passionately, but I think it was a little too angry at times for a set which had moments of such heart and would have benefitted from a less aggressive ranting at its conclusion. It dragged a little when delivered to what Wool himself described as a middle-class, artsy audience who were so clearly onside, who were laughing loudly at the darker jokes, and who wouldn’t have dreamed of complaining afterward.
All in all, an enjoyable set performed by a radiantly warm stand up who will make you feel like Christmas has come early, with the important footnote that it’s enough to get the bike you wanted from Santa; you don’t also need a letter about why you want it.