Canadian (now living in London) comedian Glen Wool will be starting 2019 by heading out on tour with his Wools Gold II (The Iron Pirate) show. He finished off 2018 with two weeks of Christmas gigs in Scotland which ended up with him playing two prison shows. Seemingly, live isn’t dull for the comic as we found out when we spoke to him recently.
1. Thanks for your time Glenn. Firstly, the new show is a “Best Of”, how did that come about?
“It’s more of a retrospective. Every two years I do a show like this and this is the second one, hence Wools II (The Iron Pirate) title. There is a vague pun in the title which, to be honest, has about a 10% success rate of people understanding it. One thing I have learned is never to name your show without checking out the name you’re going to be using first. There is a very tenious link but it’s only really there if you really go looking for it. I want people to be intrigued. Maybe some people will buy tickets for the show based on the fact that they’ll get to find out what the actual pun is and then be like “oh, is that it?”.”
2. How did you go about selecting the material and is there any material you had to leave out which you really wanted to include?
“Well, recently, I’ve had two big life-changing events. Firstly my child was born and then there was my marriage which was actually my second. So it’s about the dissolving of the first and the growing of the second. One of the things that I think when I look back is do I agree, I have a really acid tongue but I do agree with the jokes because they’re good jokes. They’re never gratuitous but they do cover some dark themes so if you’ve got a dark sense of humour then you’re probably going to fit in. These days though some of the jokes I just can’t do and some of them I just get to the punchline quicker. In fact, I remember one show where I told a joke and four women got up and walked out but it turned out to be one of those moments where I showed there is a comedy God because it turns out they hadn’t walked out they’d just gone to the bathroom.”
3. What about a new show, have you written any new material yet?
“I have written some stuff and I’m sure I’ll be dropping some new stuff into the show because, you know, I can’t help myself. I think though my new material is probably about a year or so behind my real life.”
4. Someone once said that edgy comedians who become fathers lose their edge with their routines just becoming about their kids? How will you avoid falling into that trap?
“You’ll have to come and see me to see if I’ve lost my edge [laughs]. I don’t think people lose their edge as such, it’s just what makes them laugh. I also think that age softens you. You know, if you’re forty and still stood there screaming about life then it gets a bit awkward for people watching.”
5. Going back to the beginning, who inspired you to get into comedy?
“Well, this is the thing [laughs]. There is one nice story I tell when I’m doing interviews like this or I’m asked the question. I was twelve years old and my parents took me to see a comedian in Canada. He was one of the best comedians at the time and I just sat there transfixed by this guy. He put a magic spell on the crowd and, back then, at that point, I turned to my parents and said to them that I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. The comedian? Bill Cosby [laughs].”
“The first live album I ever did was recorded in Chicago and I had a young kid by the name of Hannibal Buress introducing me and he was the kid who brought Bill Cosby’s indescretions to the attention of the world.”
6. When you started writing this show, how did it feel to look back over 25 years of material.
“[laughs] I’d say there was definitely some shame involved with some of it. Honestly, I think if you take into consideration the amount of drug and alcohol material that was involved, I’m surprised I can remember it. The thing about it is though, I can still look back and listen to those albums and I still laugh at my jokes which is a good sign.”
7. Going back to the start, was there a turning point at the beginning when it felt like you’d got your break?
“My break started really young because I started doing comedy when I was about nineteen years old. I didn’t have a job or anything tying me down so I could go and do anything really. I also had a car which helped me get about which was really important living in Canada. I took any gig I could get – mining towns, Indian reservations, any awful show I’d do it. I remember two things happening – firstly I won twenty thousand dollars on a scratch card then I was in a really bad car accident and got whiplash but, I still had the money from the scratch card.”
“At the time I then went and did what no other comedian had done at the time and that was go to Europe. I went backpacking and came to England really early while all the other comedians were going out to America. The thing is that, back then, it was really easy to get comedy gigs in England being a Canadian because there were no other Canadian comedians so you could get bookings really easily. It’s not like that anymore though [laughs].”
8. Moral dilemma time. If your child really wanted to follow you into comedy but when they performed their material for you it was terrible, what would you do?
“I’d write them new jokes. Actually, no, scrap that. I’d let them go up with their own material. They’d probably get destroyed but, you know what, you can always write a new show the next day if you want. The thing you’ve got to remember is that a lot of comics weren’t very good when they started out but they worked at it. In fact, honestly, there are some comics out there who’ve made a lot of money from comedy and they’re still not very good at it. [laughs]”
9. Before we finish, I’ve got to ask about the prison gigs?
“[laughs] Yes, when you’re a comedian people always want to know about the bad gigs never the good ones and those gigs could have gone VERY badly. I’d gone up to Scotland and taken the family and had this amazing time up there. I finished off with these two prison gigs and I just knew I didn’t want to provoke these people or wind them up. Anyway, the guards were there and that and they said to me that one of the sets of people were those prisoners who couldn’t mix with the general population because of what the other prisoners did to them. I felt sorry for them then I made the big mistake of going up on stage in a leather waistcoat and, as soon as I did, I saw eyebrows raise and they started winking at me. I think that, at that point, I realised how female comics feel. Afterwards, I kind of felt like the prison wing Elvis!”
10. Brilliant. Well Glenn, thanks for your time. Just to finish what are your hopes for 2019?
“I’d like the tour to go well. I’d like another referendum and I’d like everyone to be happy. Maybe people will come and see my show and that will be the cause for the happiness. Who knows?”
For ticket information visit www.glennwool.com
Fri 01 Feb – Sheaf Street Cafeteria, Leeds
Sat 02 Feb – The Old Pint Pot, Salford
Sun 03 Feb – Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton
Sat 09 Feb – CatStrand Arts Centre, Castle Douglas
Sun 10 Feb – The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh
Mon 11 Feb – The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow
Thu 14 Feb – Pontardawe Arts Centre, Pontardwe – Swansea
Fri 15 Feb – South Street Arts Centre, Reading
Fri 22 Feb – Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone
Sat 23 Feb – The Cookie, Leicester
Sun 24 Feb – The Basement, York
Mon 25 Feb – The Stand Comedy Club, Newcastle
Thu 28 Feb – Komedia, Brighton
Sat 02 Mar – The Brindley, Runcorn
Sun 03 Mar – The Stables, Milton Keynes
Thu 07 Mar – Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich
Fri 08 Mar – Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead
Sat 09 Mar – Artrix, Bromsgrove
Sun 10 Mar – Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
Thu 14 Mar – Fruit, Hull
Fri 15 Mar – Helmsley Arts Centre, Helmsley
Sat 16 Mar – The Junction, Cambridge
Thu 21 Mar – The Hawth, Crawley
Tue 26 Mar – Soho Theatre, London
Wed 27 Mar – Soho Theatre, London
Thu 28 Mar – Soho Theatre, London
Fri 29 Mar – Soho Theatre, London
Sat 30 Mar – Soho Theatre, London
Fri 05 Apr – Swindon Arts Centre, Swindon
Fri 12 Apr – Marlowe Studio, Canterbury
Thu 18 Apr – Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool
Wed 24 Apr – West End Centre, Aldershot
Thu 25 Apr – Stafford Gatehouse, Stafford
Sun 28 Apr – Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester