Thursday, 18 September 2008

FEATURE: The Healing Power Of Laughter

The Healing Power of Laughter
Louise Ridley talks to Glen Wool about his honest and imaginative stand-up show

In his stand-up Fringe show, ‘Goodbye Scars,’ Glenn Wool is getting personal. Really personal. In it, the charismatic Canadian (described as a cross between Jack Black and Meat Loaf) talks frankly about the aftermath of his nasty real-life divorce. “It’s about forgiving yourself for things,” says Glenn, “Sometimes it’s good to play things through, and to have regrets. It’s a theme I keep in all of my shows; where you end up is about where you’ve been. I think it’s a sign that you’re totally over something if you can talk about it on stage.”If this is the case, Glenn is certainly over it, and his honesty is effortlessly funny. “I think it makes it more accessible to everyone. I’ve said to myself this is the last really personal show I’ll do though. I’ll go on to more political stuff, drug humour, that kind of thing.” I had read somewhere that Glenn had given up drinking, but am assured that he has done no such thing, “I tried for three months, but then I had to give up sobriety.”As we appreciate non-sobriety together after his show, the edgy and buzzing Glenn that I saw on stage gives way to an equally affable, but exhausted, one. And it’s no wonder; directly before his gig he performs nightly in the Fringe hit ‘Office Party.’ “It’s a spectacular show,” he tells me, “I’m not just saying that. We did it in the Barbican in London in September as well.” He can’t stick around for the party which happens after the show finishes though, “I have to leave before it ends to get to my gig!”Like many, Glenn enjoys the collective aspect of the Fringe, “It’s like a convention of all of my friends. It stretches you as a performer too. I like that.” He feels that some are being stretched in the wrong direction, though, “What you tend to get with trends in comedy is that people at the forefront are really good but others just switch for the sake of it, when they should really do their own thing and find their own voice. Some people are just good-looking or something, or someone says to them ‘be like him!’ so they do.” This approach is definitely not for Glenn, whose constant semi-stoned air is punctuated by brilliantly extreme expressions of fear and surprise and sharp observations that reveal a shrewd talent for selecting material. He entrances the audience with detailed stories that build up to a single, triumphant punch line, which he says is all to do with know-how; “The stories I’m telling now I couldn’t have done as a less experienced comic. You learn how to hold attention. Before that you just know that something funny has happened but you don’t know how to put it on stage. I’ve still got stories in the bag!”After pursuing a particularly sensitive theme this evening, he explains that you can’t always please everyone. “I knew some people wouldn’t like it, as they didn’t like the original joke, but tonight I wanted to reward the core group who were enjoying it. As I always say, those are the kinds of things that lose you awards but win you an audience that you’ll want to stay friends with for life.” Glenn has undoubtedly not achieved the fame that his ability merits, which could be to do with his lack of interest in awards, but choosing to push the boundaries rather than play it safe is just another quality that recommends him as one of the most refreshing comics on the circuit at the moment.

--Glenn Wool – Goodbye Scars, Underbelly, 31 Jul – 24 Aug (not 12), 10.15pm (11.15pm), prices vary, fpp 54.Office Party, Udderbelly’s Pasture, 2 – 25 Aug, 8.00pm (11.00pm), prices vary, fpp 83.

published: Aug-2008 for Three Weeks newspaper at the Edinburgh Festival

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