BWW Reviews: Colin Quinn - Fast, Furious and Funny
In an age of 30 second sound bites and attention deficit disorder, keeping an audience engaged and entertained for a non-stop 70 minutes is quite an achievement, And when a subject as dry as the US Constitution provokes regular gales of laughter throughout, the performer is clearly not your average, run-of-the-mill comedian.
Anyone who bought a ticket to see Colin Quinn's one man show, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, can have had little idea of what to expect. Quinn, familiar from his appearances on MTV and Saturday Night Live, is a seasoned comic who has become a nationally known name, but even so. . . the history of the US Constitution? What on earth is funny about that?
Well, as it turns out, in Quinn's capable hands, a great deal. Against a backdrop of various excerpts from the document itself, projected onto a large screen, he delivers a fast-paced mix of historical facts and hilarious, often provocative observations and interpretations, from a present day perspective.
He starts out by reminding us that, while everyone is familiar with and regularly refers to, the US Constitution, hardly anyone has ever read it. "It's four pages long," he says wryly, adding with a shrug, "No-one has that kind of time." The Constitutional Convention of 1787 is irreverently defined as 'a four month, drunken pub crawl,' and the initial, high-minded introduction becomes 'a delusional, drunken promise.'
Much of Quinn's material focuses on the contrast between what the Founding Fathers intended and what has transpired in the 200 plus years since then. For instance, politicians today are completely out of touch with those they are supposed to represent, as are the black-robed Justices on the Supreme Court. As for the latter, he declares, "It's the only lifetime job, except for college football coaches... and you can see how well that's working out."
He even addresses sensitive topics such as race and class, observing that these high profile, hotly disputed issues are fiercely argued about, but rarely discussed in a rational manner. And, as he points out, the media doesn't exactly help, concerning itself more with the superficial fallout surrounding a story ('the talk about the talk...') rather than focusing on what's really going on.
Using the Constitution as a springboard, Quinn also gives a quick run-down of US presidents, from Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Jackson to George Bush and Barrack Obama. Although this is not material you're likely to find in history books, there is often more than a grain of substance to be found behind the humor
As for his own personal political position, Quinn sums it up as follows, "I'm pro-choice but I'm pro-gun. I'm pro-gay marriage, but I'm also pro-death penalty. What do all these things have in common? I'm anti-overcrowding."
By the end of the evening, Quinn's unique blend of history and humor becomes an original analysis of the collapse of the American dream. It's not often that a stand-up comic delivers thought-provoking material that makes one start thinking seriously about the issues involved, once the laughter has stopped. That's what separates the men from the boys and Colin Quinn is most definitely a man.
For more information, visit www.lensic.org.