How We Met: Glenn Wool & Tom Stade - "We can all be pretty vicious and unguarded with one another, as nothing is taboo"

 

Glenn Wool, 39

A Canadian stand-up comedian originally from Vancouver, Wool (left in picture) moved to the UK in 1998, winning awards for his political yet gleefully daft brand of comedy. He's toured the world extensively, and in 2008 was nominated in the Best Headliner category at the Chortle Awards. When not touring, he divides his time between London and Vancouver

It started in Vancouver 20 years ago. I was doing my first stand-up gig at an open-mic night; he was hosting. I think Tom did some shocking filler material to make it easier for me to come on. We bonded afterwards: he's a pure soul and a happy, fun guy to be around.

Back then, there were a few households in Vancouver where 19 young comics would scratch to make rent in eight-bed houses. The parties there went on well into the mornings. That's where I hung out with Tommy the most.

He's a smart dude but he doesn't pretend to know about something when he doesn't, or attempt to dazzle you with vocabulary, as I'm prone to. Early on in our friendship I was reading James Joyce's Dubliners and I told him about a story in it and I asked him a question about it. He raised his hand and said, "Buddy, I got no want to talk to you about a novel. I don't know who Joyce James is and I never been to Scotland." It was a nice moment!

I moved over to England quite soon after that; I was here for three or four years before Tommy came over and we met up again. We've had some crazy times. I remember one time in particular: Tom doesn't react well to harder forms of drugs and one night he became so ill, he thought he was dying. Our friends were all convinced that they needed to take him to hospital. I was like, "Nah, nah, he's OK, he'll be fine." I woke up the next morning saying, "Guys, I'm not a doctor! Next time, if you think you need to take him to hospital, don't look to someone on the same drugs as him!"

He got married in Vegas, and when I first found out I was like, what has he done now, oh god, as there was no indication of Trudy in his life beforehand; I didn't know her. At the time, Tom was driving across America and got married in Vegas. I gave it a week. Twenty years later, I still give it a week.

He's given me unfiltered friendship but, like the core group [of comics] we're part of, when things such as divorce happen to us [Wool separated from his wife in 2008], we can all be pretty vicious and unguarded with one another, as nothing is taboo.

His worst habit has to be this weird thing that links his volume with his sobriety level; he's a pretty boisterous dude and his ears stop working when he's drinking. Canadian houses are far apart so when he moved to London I had to tell him a few times to stop yelling – he just wasn't used to the close proximity of London flats.

Tom Stade, 43

The Edinburgh-based stand-up made his name in his native Canada before moving to the UK. A circuit stalwart, he made his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2006 and has subsequently appeared on TV shows from 'Live at the Apollo' to 'Mock the Week'. In 2011, he was nominated for Best Headliner by Chortle. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and their two children

It's hard asking two of the biggest party people what was going on 20 years ago. I remember, though, that we first met at a comedy club in Vancouver – it was Glenn's first time there and he was wearing this pink sweater, looking all preppy, and I was MCing.

We hooked up for a beer after the show and we had similar ideas as to what comedy and life should be about, and it went on till six or seven in the morning. At that point I was 22, reckless and the only passion I had was comedy, which I viewed as a party lifestyle. I said to him, "I think you'll fit in just fine."

I was living at 9th West Street – a legendary big house of comedians – for three years, smoking drugs and drinking. He was a partier there and probably one of the last members of the elite group [of comedians] there.

His use of language blew my mind. He's one of the most articulate men I've ever met. We'd be laughing about something he said, but secretly I'm going to myself, "This guy is making me feel stupid." I'm a high-school drop-out and I'd think, I'd better read some more books before we catch up next.

Of our group, I was the first on stage in Canada but I was the last person to come to the UK. And when I saw Glenn again over here several years later he wasn't wearing that preppy pink sweater any more; he'd become this very cool individual wearing eyeliner and a hat. One thing about moving is that you can shake off all the things you hate and become a new person; he got to be resurrected.

But I came in as the same person that I was and we clicked all over again. He took me out and introduced me to people, from Ed Byrne to Dara O'Briain, and took me to all the parties, as I had done for him in Canada. He gave me the keys to the London comedy scene; I'll never not be thankful for that. And so the debauchery began again at another comics house, in Wood Green, north London.

Glenn has a little bit of a fear of intimacy; I think he worries that if anyone is with him for too long, they might find out who he really is, so, to many people, he would rather be a really good acquaintance than actually expose himself for who he is really. But he's given me so many things: friendship, door openings and someone who I've only ever laughed with – sat back, roared our guts out; and you don't get that from too many people.

Glenn Wool and Tom Stade are performing nightly at the Edinburgh Festival to 24 August, Wool at the Underbelly (glennwool.com), and Stade at The Assembly Rooms (tomstade.co.uk). Stade will then be touring his show 'Decisions Decisions' nationwide throughout autumn

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