The word ‘edgy’ is overused in comedy, often applied to mundane material spiced up with swears, or simply box-ticking gag-reflex taboos that are rolled out routinely to break up a set with a raised Jimmy Carr-esque eyebrow. Safe as houses, in other words.
Wool, however, is everything edgy should mean – he traverses that precarious line between what an audience will go for and what they won’t, what will elicit a gasp or a hiss – maybe a stunned silence. Most of the time he pulls this off brilliantly, and you find yourself in hysterics, albeit with a guilty nag at the back of your head to be revisited later for a stewards’ inquiry. Sometimes he does not – tonight a baffling line about dead prostitutes thunks to the floor, and you get the sense that much near-the-knuckle stuff has been reluctantly cut before we’ve reached this stage.
What we’re left with is a masterful hour of comic anecdotes told engagingly, energetically and LOUDLY. Comic voices, absurd flights of fancy, bits of politics and shades of confessional vulnerability are wrapped up within a loose skin of faux-profundity to densely pack an hour that flies by with some soaring peaks. Mischievous and world-weary, Wool is a thoughtful comic, breaking an idea down to its rawest to seek out the biggest laughs – then qualifying it articulately and intelligently.
Impressive and essential.
**** and a 1/2