If you’ve ever played snooker on a full size table, you’ll know that when you go back to a pub pool table, it feels small and easy. You can smash pots in from all angles. A comedy equivalent has happened to Glenn Wool. He’s been playing tour support for Reginald D Hunter in way bigger rooms than this, and it shows in how easily he takes this room. His preacherman-meets-biker vibe gives him presence anyway, but he totally commands the space in other ways too. That mic isn’t just a lump of cold tech in his hand. He uses it proactively, like a singer, ramping things up or fading out as he needs. The dynamics of his delivery are spot on. This is consummate stand-up performance of the type you’re lucky to see at this level of venue.
The dynamics of the material are equally strong too. He opens with some jocular stuff about the Spice Girls track after which the show’s named, and to which we’ve been “treated” to multiple plays as we arrived. Then it steps up a bit more seriously with some playful interrogation of Justin Trudeau‘s presidential credentials. Ultimately, slowly building all the time, he’s here to strike a blow for comedic freedom and against the taking of offence – a point that’s been made many times before by comics, but more often through the pen than through the mic. Besides, Wool’s case is neat and compact and climaxes with a brilliant segment on Michael Schumacher, which includes the winner of whatever the actually funny version of Dave’s Joke of the Fringe is.
It’s not all packed with laughs; it concentrates more on being smart and deconstructive. But it’s compelling, and you’re never let out of his grasp to wonder what’s for tea tonight or who’s on next.
It does undermine itself slightly by not getting dark enough. It’s dark, but liberal artsfest spit-out-your-chia-seed-smoothie-in-disgust dark, not dark dark, not man-you’ve-just-taken-this-off-a-cliff dark. If you’re triggerable, you’ll already have been triggered way earlier by the testosterone-fuelled, bar-room humour in the early part of the show. To really make the point about comedic freedom, he’d have to go further and push the buttons of even those who think they agree with him.
Ultimately though, the case is made less by what he says, than the way he says it. When you’re this good at delivering comedy, you can get away with just about anything.