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An Interview With Colin Quinn

By Gary Wien


Politics has always played a role in Colin Quinn's comedy, but never more so than in his current show, "Unconstitutional", which makes a stop at The Newton Theatre on July 26. In his latest one-man show, Quinn takes a look at how the Constitution influences the national character of America regardless of which side of the political spectrum you are on.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Quinn was a veteran of the New York comedy club circuit when he landed a spot as co-host of MTV's Remote Control game show. That run led to five seasons on Saturday Night Live where he wrote segments, acted, and eventually stepped in as anchor of Weekend Update. He's since had his own show on Comedy Central ("Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn"), had roles in films like "A Night at the Roxbury" and "Grown Ups", and brought two separate one-man shows to Broadway ("Colin Quinn— An Irish Wake" and "Colin Quinn — Long Story Short").


How does Unconstitutional work? Do you go step by step through the Constitution?
I go through all of the articles and what they mean to me basically. It's more like highlighting one, two, and three, obviously, and all of the Bill of Rights. It's the psychological and philosophical journey of our country. My whole philosophy on the Constitution is that it's so ingrained in us we don't even know that we believe in it. It's just part of our personality as Americans.

It's an interesting document that both political parties tend to twist and turn to their liking.
Yeah, I mean that's the truth of the matter. It's one of those documents where interpretation is interpretation... it's the Court's interpretation. That's what you're getting, so, of course it's going to be a problem.

The country is obviously quite divided, but has anything surprised you along this tour?
No, I feel like the big thing is that people don't like the division. I was talking to my friend about this earlier today. I was saying that this country should break up. It almost feels like ‘why are we doing this? Why are we still trying to get along as a country when obviously we have great philosophical differences about what this country should be?' And the differences aren't going away.

It's like we've got a city with a good side and a bad side and you wonder why it's one city.
Exactly! And the only people who would get lost in the divorce is a place like Austin. They would have to pay the price because they're in Texas and they are a blue state city in a red state. Somebody always gets hurt when the parents break up...

Politics has always been the background of what you're doing. Were you interested in politics growing up? Did your family discuss politics in the house?
Yeah, we were kind of political. We definitely read a lot. My relatives would talk about politics. They'd all sit there and smoke and drink and philosophize. But it was said in a very cynical kind of way.

As someone generally described as an Irish-American, were Irish politics discussed?
Oh yeah, we all knew that the IRA was a non-terrorist group and everybody else was a terrorist! (laughs) The thing about being Irish... I feel like part of being Irish is that you should be cynical. The worst thing you can be is sincere on one side or the other completely. I feel like anyone that is a true believer in anything 100 percent is the ultimate fool to Irish people.

Before you created this show, what did you think about the Constitution?
I didn't like the language, it was boring to me, and I was just turned off by the whole culture of the Constitutional Convention. I couldn't understand how everyone I know loves the Constitution. People who hate everything and disagree on everything, love the Constitution. So, that's what got me fascinated with trying to figure it out for myself.

Looking back on your career, you shot the video "Going Back To Brooklyn" in 1989. The city has changed so much now, did you ever wonder how you might have turned out if you grew up in today's hipster Brooklyn?
Oh my God, I would have probably been even more cynical and more ironic. Yeah, I would have been even worse.

And in the 80s, MTV was blamed for killing radio, but you were co-host of Remote Control — MTV's first non-music program. In a way, you helped kill the video star!
Honestly, I've never heard it phrased exactly like that. I've heard we killed MTV, but I like that... we killed the video star! We were there at the beginning of the end...



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John Mulaney & Pete Davidson To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Comedian John Mulaney and Pete Davidson will perfom at Count Basie Center for The Arts on Sunday, February 17 at 10:00pm. Tickets are $49.
Russell Peters To Perform Two Shows at NJPAC
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedian Russell Peters will leave no cultural stereotype unturned when he brings his brand-new Deported World Tour to NJPAC’s Prudential Hall on Saturday, February 16.  Due to popular demand, there will be two performances: one at 7:00pm and another at 9:30pm.  Tickets range from $49 to $99.
Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix To Perform at MPAC
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Sit! Stay! Get ready to howl! Johnny Peers and his personality-plus canines are coming to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Sunday, February 3 at 1:30pm and 4:30pm. Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix is a slapstick comedy act like no other. Johnny leads over a dozen dogs through challenging and hilarious tricks as Johnny plays the straight man role in this wonderful show. This event is for the dog lover in all of us stars mostly animals rescued from shelters or pounds.Tickets are $12-$15.
Ladies Night Out Comedy Tour To Come To NJPAC on March 9th
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Calling all ladies! Ladies Night Out Comedy Tour makes a stop at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 8:00pm. NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta) hosts this outrageous stand-up comedy event featuring Adele Givens (the big-screen Beauty Shop), Sherri Shepherd (former longtime host on The View), Loni Love (co-host of Fox’s Emmy-winning The Real), and Janelle James (of HBO’s current Crashing).
State Theatre New Jersey presents Ron White
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“Hysterical!” Gallagher LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
Gallagher is joking with patrons in the lobby of Lakewood, NJ’s historic Strand Theater this Thursday, May 24, 2018 evening. In his audacious style, he’s grabbing cameras out of the hands of patrons who want to take great selfies with him, while also taking the time to sign T-shirts for stand-up comedy fans waiting for him at the merch table.
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Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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