Comedy review: Glenn Wool: This Road Has Tolls

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Glenn Wool: This Road Has Tolls at Assembly George Square (Venue 3), reviewed by Jay Richardson


A MONTH in Edinburgh is the longest Glenn Wool spends anywhere these days, a rare spell of reflection in an itinerant lifestyle that would see him classed as a gypsy, were it not for the fact that he doesn’t own a horse.

Air travel routines are one of the dusty perennials of stand-up and every comic has an equine gag after the horsemeat scandal. But Wool, as he is keen to impress upon you in his grandstanding, grandiloquent way, is the much-travelled “Iron Cowboy of Comedy”.

And he brings a refreshing outsider’s perspective to both topics in this typically strong hour of big and small issues, tackled with philosophical rigour and the wilful silliness of South-East Asian placename puns.

Notwithstanding a return to a London hotel fallen on hard times, there is no narrative arc to his tale, unless you include a nightmare journey he endured flying round the globe with a slipped disc, prompting a reassessment of his karma.

He certainly tempts divine retribution when he outlines the ruse he employs to avoid sitting next to children on a flight. But even he doesn’t deserve the reaction he elicited performing for Jewish pensioners in New Jersey, threatening him with perhaps the ultimate heckle.

Offence in language, religion and comedy remains a major preoccupation of the Canadian and he stands his ground impressively and makes his cases eloquently in the face of hypocrisy and overreaction – although it is worth noting here that his lawyer father once defended the most amorous of animal molesters, so he can’t top that.

The grittiest part of his hour arrives when he backs his dementia-suffering, 95-year-old grandfather against charges of verbal abuse, part of a routine that opposes casual use of the word “molestation” and hilariously demands that Second World War veterans be given carte blanche for their behaviour.

After dismissing karma so adroitly, Wool finds that what goes around, comes around, ending on a perfectly ambiguous note before flying his iron steed off into the sunset once more.

MORE INFO: Glenn Wool: This Road Has Tolls at Assembly George Square (Venue 3)

Originally published in The Scotsman

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