The gloves are on
Protest … Glenn Wool's shows make a point. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
It's hard to see the downside to travelling the world. At least until you have been escorted to a private room in Bali's Denpasar International Airport and hear the snap of rubber gloves being put on.
''I was going from Sydney to Bali just for a little holiday between comedy festivals and they said they found cocaine on my hands,'' the Canadian-born citizen of the stand-up comedy world, Glenn Wool, says. ''They're really strict on drugs there and they made up some story just so that they could search all my belongings and this show kinda takes place in that hour. It's about all the troubles I get into on the road and how I get myself out of these things.''
I have Australian friends I've never met in Australia.
Wool, you'll be relieved to hear, wasn't carrying anything that might attract the ire of the Indonesian customs service. Not that they didn't look. Everywhere.
''I like to think of this show as my quiet protest,'' Wool says. ''Once in a while you get a chance to stick it to the man and there's nothing he can do about it because you're in the right.''
Wool has been working the ever-expanding international comedy circuit for 18 years and he considers himself a professional nomad. He's done gigs in India, New Zealand, China, the Netherlands, Japan, the Middle East, the US, Ireland and Scandinavia to name just a few. Now he's distilled all those experiences into an hour of tell-it-like-it-is comedy, No Land's Man.
A native of Vancouver, Wool claims to be of no fixed address and says he likes it that way. ''I keep hinting that maybe I'd like to buy a place someday but my girlfriend won't have it,'' he says. ''She's afraid I'll just leave her there and keep on travelling.''
Wool prefers to travel light. ''It's the beauty of comedy, you don't have to bring anything with you,'' he says. ''A change of clothes, your passport and your stories, that's it.''
Wool says friendships are vital when you live this kind of peripatetic life.
''You only get to see your friends three times a year and only in weird places,'' he says. ''I think that's why comedians drink so much. I have Australian friends I've never actually met in Australia. I just know them from the festivals. It's like a travelling village.''
It's tough on relationships and families but the international comedy festival has been a godsend for comics such as Wool who are prepared to put in the mileage.
''The circuit is doing really well for a lot of guys now,'' he says. ''All my friends are getting famous, even the edgy ones. They get famous and start scuba diving.''
Wool arrives fresh - if that's the word, he's sounding decidedly croaky - from a season at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. He didn't like it.
''Everybody wrote me up as this angry-guy comic,'' he says. ''That's not what I do. My show is social and political and personal commentary, if you like. But I was playing in this packed room and I was sick and the airconditioning was broken and everybody was angry. And I was getting a bit shouty, but it's like those TV shows about celebrity chefs. You know why they shout? 'Cause it's always so damn hot in the kitchen. It's just a temperature thing.''
Glenn Wool plays the Factory Theatre Marrickville, May 1-6 and May 8-13. Tickets $25-$32. Bookings (02) 9020 6966.