Q&A with the legendary Glenn Wool, prior to his Comedy Store residency. See him whenever you get the chance, heâs brilliant.
Dom Romeo: By the time I first saw you live â in Edinburgh in 2003 â you had already established a reputation as a great comic, even though I didnât get to see you in Australia for a few more years. How did you come to comedy?
GLENN WOOL: I was always funny as a human, and I thought, âIâll make some money off of that!â So you go to open mic nights and they tend to laugh or not laugh. Thankfully, they laughed.
Dom Romeo: Did it take going to the UK to establish yourself, or were you already a known quantity before that?
GLENN WOOL: Not really. I was doing road gigs in Canada and was just sort of learninâ my chops but it was good to come to the UK with no expectations â I could really blossom over in the UK. I sort of count myself as half English and half Canadian because it was so much of becoming man â it was over here, you know?
Dom Romeo: Why was that? Why didnât that happen back in Canada? Canada does have the Montreal Comedy Festival, after all. Why did it seem to take Edinburgh to make you?
GLENN WOOL: I didnât get to the Montreal Festival until three years ago. Canadaâs a great place to learn your trade, but you kind of have to leave; itâs hard work, trying to make a living from comedy in Canada. England is definitely the place to be for the International Comedian. Itâs just got so many gigs. I mean, Iâm standing outside of a gig called âOld Ropeâ here tonight, and itâs just f*cken wonderful. We had guys who are doinâ theatres and stuff just tryinâ out new materialâ¦ itâs a really positive scene and everybody really supports each other. Not that they donât in Canada. Itâs that the upside to doing well in the UK is bigger than the upside to doing well in Canada. So I came here. But Iâm moving to America soon, anyway, so weâll see what happens there.
Dom Romeo: Why is that?
GLENN WOOL: I got signed to CAA, which is a big agency, and they said, âCome to America, my friend! Give us your poor, huddled masses, and we will make you a STAAAAAAR!â
Dom Romeo: Since Iâve known you, or known of you as a comic, Glenn, youâve always looked like a Fabulous Furry Freak Brother to me. You know, the hat, the moustache.
GLENN WOOL: Hahahahahahahaha. Iâll take that!
Dom Romeo: Are you going to California?
GLENN WOOL: Yeah, man.
Dom Romeo: Youâre gonna fit right in.
GLENN WOOL: I know! Iâm going to try and start a Crosby, Stills & Nash cover band, and play all the roles myself!
Dom Romeo: The person you are on stage doesnât seem to self-censor. Are there any limits to what you can or will talk about?
GLENN WOOL: No. I donât think there is any subject matter which is out-of-bounds. If youâre going to talk about a subject matter which has a possibility of offending somebody, you better be saying something about it. I donât like to be gratuitous, you know? If I talk about something, thereâs going to be a joke there and an angle and a point of view. If I can keep all those things together, then no, there are no limits. Donât get me wrong â on stage, off-the-cuff, Iâve said things that I donât agree with, that I wish I could have back, but thatâs the beauty of the live performance â that you always have the possibility of doing something like that. And in the end, if people really want to get offended, well itâs a comedy gig, and Iâve always said this about offense:
If you can understand the joke, if you can understand why somebody thought it was funny, it means that in your head, you could have thought of that yourself. So really, when you get offended, youâre actually offended by your own brain. Which is never a strong stand-point in an argument.
Dom Romeo: Looking at your material â hilarious, clever â there are times when, if Iâm to be honest, it can be reduced to âdifference between men and womenâ or this religion versus that religion. Of course thereâs so much more going on â because youâre bringing your experiences and your unique world view into playâ¦
GLENN WOOL: I try to not bring up a situation and then have the joke be, âso you could imagine what I would do in that situationâ¦â unless you actually have a structured joke and punchline. You can put your persona into a joke, but I always like to keep an actual joke there. You have to write a lot if youâre gonna be a stand-up, and a lot of the time itâs one of the lazy traps other comics can fall into. Me myself: Iâve got jokes I canât stand that get a laugh, so I keep them in. Not that I think theyâre offensive â I think theyâre beneath me. But the crowd likes them, so f*ck it, you know? You give it to âem.
Dom Romeo: Is it too much to ask for one example of such a joke that gets a laugh so you keep it, even though itâs beneath you and shouldnât be in the routine?
GLENN WOOL: Donât do that to me, man; this ainât a trial! I donât want any of my jokes to know which ones I donât like. Theyâre sensitive, and theyâre like my children. They are my children; I donât have any children.
Dom Romeo: Thereâs a moment that comes up, time and again, when hanging out with certain friends, when a quote comes up: âI donât care that the Jews control the milk!ââ¦
GLENN WOOL: Hahahahahahahaha. I know what you do with your friends.
Dom Romeo: You know exactly what Iâm talking about.
GLENN WOOL: Yes I do, man, oh yes I do!
Itâs funny. Itâs jokes like that, that are really fun to tell because people come up afterwards and are just happy that somebodyâs talking about that sort of thing and not demonising the person. Yeah, weâve all got vices; weâve all got problems. Or maybe itâs not a problem; maybe itâs just something we do, and we can just laugh at it and go, âthatâs observational about a new sort of thing that people are doingâ. Theyâve always done stuff like that, you know; itâs like old jokes about booze.
Dom Romeo: Well thatâs another example of you taking an old topic and turning it into something spectacular as a routine: the Drunk Glenn/Sober Glenn routine.
GLENN WOOL: Yeah. That is an Australian favourite because I did that on the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala.
Dom Romeo: Yep!
GLENN WOOL: And Iâve had Aussies all over the world pulling over in their cars and going, [in broad Aussie accent] âIs that sober Glenn or drunk Glenn?â
I was back in Vancouver visiting a mate â kind of the guy that, when I started out in comedy, he sort of tutored me. Heâs a great dude. It was a really weird experience: I was just walking through the mall with him. I see him every once in a while, but I was saying, âIâve got so much to tell youâ¦ so many things have happened. Iâve been all over the worldâ¦â and this dude came out of nowhere â he was working in the shop â an Aussie kid with big dreadlocks. He was like, [Aussie accent again]âomigawd, youâre Glenn f*ckinâ Wool, I never knew you even came here!â To me, it looked to my sort of âteacherâ, âyou see, Teacher? It seems to be going well.âYouâve been to Australia a lot. Have you been to Sydney before?
GLENN WOOL: Iâve been there. Iâve never done a show there. Iâve got an old buddy from high school in Canada. He actually now lives in Sydney. I was able to go fishing with him. Did some rock fishing with him. He was like, âyeah, yeah, itâs funâ. Then I heard the statistic: [Aussie accent again] âyou might get pulled out to seaâ. I just thought, âthat looks dangerous, but thereâs other people here fishingâ. Little did I knowâ¦
Dom Romeo: Well â thatâs part of the job, isnât it? Doing something dangerous and then talking about it onstage after surviving?
GLENN WOOL: Yeah. I was just talking to Eddie Byrnes about it last night. We were talking about writing new shows, and we were saying you just wait for bad shit to happen, you know? Thatâs how you write a new show. Sometimes, instead of going home and watching a movie, you have to stay out and hope that something humorous might take place.
Dom Romeo: When you come to Sydney, are we gonna see the best of whatâs been, or are you working up material for next yearâs Festival circuit?
GLENN WOOL: Youâll see the best of whatâs been, but a lot of it wonât have been on the net or on television because itâs from my Edinburgh show this year, and that has not been performed at all in Australia. Iâll probably throw in a couple of the old classics just because people like to hear them, but it should be a pretty new show.
And thatâs the other thing, too: if you want an entirely fresh show, stay off the internet. I get people going, âI saw that on the internet!â Iâm like, âyeah! For free! So pay this time, you prick!â
Dom Romeo: Last time I saw you in Melbourne you were selling a very good DVD.
GLENN WOOL: Yeah man, Iâve just about sold out the run of that one. Iâm about to shoot another one. And Iâve got an album coming out in the States in February. Itâs through Stand Up Records. Make sure you print that, theyâll be happy with me that Iâve mentioned it.
Come try and work out which of Glenn Woolâs hilarious jokes might be beneath him at the Comedy Store - until October 10.