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BWW Review: Colin Quinn's RED STATE BLUE STATE Riffs On America's Political Divide


"Free speech is an acoustic art. It wasn't meant to go electric," Colin Quinn explains in his very funny riff on contemporary America's political divide, RED STATE BLUE STATE.

Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State
Colin Quinn (Photo: Edward T. Morris)

"If somebody told you, fifteen years ago, even, 'We have this idea. Everybody is going to be able to give their innermost thoughts to the whole planet all day, every day,' you would say, 'Oh, my god, please don't do that.'"

It's not that the Brooklyn-born comedian with a casual working class sensibility wants to limit the expression of ideas, but he recognizes how the explosion of social media came about so quickly that human beings weren't quite prepared to use it responsibly.

After all, as he points out, for centuries if you wanted to argue about politics with a stranger, you were required to leave your home and find a stranger to argue with.

Directed by Bobby Moresco, RED STATE BLUE STATE is a tight 75-minute set that, without taking sides, seeks to sort out how the country got torn apart so quickly.

"We're in danger of a civil war," he warns. "And we're not built for another civil war. It's the first time in history you're gonna see fat refugees... with flip-flops and jorts, carrying coolers and trundling towards Canada."

Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State
Colin Quinn (Photo: Edward T. Morris)

"Every 700 miles, people have a different personality," Quinn observes, so he proposes that America's problem is that we ignored the continent's natural borders where new countries should have settled. To expound on this, he charges through 50 zingers, one for each state, attempting to put each personality in a nutshell. Maybe they're not all gems, but his expertise in rhythms and tones creates a comical topography as varied as the land that we love.

Quinn's conclusion that all Americans really want the same thing and that what causes conflict are the different ways in which we try to achieve them may not be a popular one, but when he sends us all off after his bow with War's hit single "Why Can't We Be Friends?" piped through the theatre, it's hard not to feel a little more optimistic about the states becoming a bit more united.

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