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Edinburgh 2013: Glenn Wool/ Gary Delaney/ Carl Donnelly | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh 2013: Glenn Wool/ Gary Delaney/ Carl Donnelly

Edinburgh 2013: Glenn Wool/ Gary Delaney/ Carl Donnelly

Surreal showboating, an old-fashioned one-liner specialist, and comedy as therapy

Glenn Wool: in a world of his own

Glenn Wool, Assembly George Square ****

There are some comics who can always be relied upon to create engaging and funny shows, and the Canadian Glenn Wool is one of them. His comedy appears to be straightforward stand-up – anecdotes are interspersed with one-liners and puns, with occasional interaction with the audience, to create a small world of his own, with more than a touch of the surreal about it.

Glenn Wool, Assembly George Square ****

There are some comics who can always be relied upon to create engaging and funny shows, and the Canadian Glenn Wool is one of them. His comedy appears to be straightforward stand-up – anecdotes are interspersed with one-liners and puns, with occasional interaction with the audience, to create a small world of his own, with more than a touch of the surreal about it.

This Road Has Tolls gives an outsider's view of UK news stories in the past year, from the Olympics and the royal birth, to the Yewtree investigation and the horsemeat scandal. The last leads into a wonderful section; referencing various equine-based sex crimes, he says: “Eating them is the least weird thing humans can do to them” - which turns into an extended riff about his desire to own a pony and of the difficulties of taking it on a flight. Other glorious set pieces involve a slipped disc and an encounter with a Buddhist monk, and his granddad’s dementia.

The pace gathers steadily and the material delivered in Wool's trademark showboating style, a mixture of bellowing and theatrical whispers. It is, as ever, a thrilling hour of comedy from one of the best on the circuit.

  • Until August 26

 

Gary Delaney, Pleasance Courtyard ****

Gary Delaney is an experienced and highly successful club comic and This Time It's Not Personal is an unusual Fringe show in that is doesn't, as he makes clear from the off, have a narrative arc or “is about the death of my father”, a neat dig at any number of comics at festivals present and past.

Instead it's an often hilarious collection of one-liners: “I took a poll and 100 percent of people were annoyed that their tent had fallen down.” While much of his material is just daft, some strays into dodgy territory - “I'm not very good at dwarf impressions. But hey ho” - and Delaney appears to have an unhealthy obsession with jokes about paedophiles.

For 40 minutes it's a joy, but then the pace dips when he sits in the audience to show images of typos he's found on the internet on the large screen on stage, and I could have done without the increasingly crude material towards the end of his hour. But his cod letters to problem-page writers and his sabotaging of Wikipedia entries are great fun.

  • Until August 25

Carl Donnelly, Pleasance Courtyard ***

It's long been the case that for some performers stand-up is comedy as therapy, and for much of Now That's What I Carl Donnelly! Volume V Carl Donnelly appears to be working through some issues, as psychotherapists say. He's just begun taking a break from his wife, he tells us as soon as he takes the stage - “If only it had a happened five months before the festival I could have written a show about it,” a sentiment I found myself agreeing with more than once.

He muses about seeing his “cock double” on porn sites, gay marriage and the nature of homophobia, how aggressive some men feel the need to be – and his belief that the world might be a better place if more men were gay. There's the occasional nugget, but much of the hour feels like musings rather than processed thoughts, and Donnelly's punchlines too often land without impact.

  • Until August 25
Wool's trademark showboating style is a mixture of bellowing and theatrical whispers

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