With the current political climate across the nation, many Americans watch the “Weekend Update” segment of Saturday Night Live to find humor in the tumultuous and divisive state of the nation. Before Colin Jost sat behind the desk, however, another Colin sat right in his spot, and he hasn’t stopped commenting on these current political issues throughout his decade-spanning career.
In his “One in Every Crowd” tour, former “Weekend Update” correspondent and television host Colin Quinn discusses political issues through the lens of identifying the toxic people in every situation.
“Comedy isn’t the nice things in the world, it’s the misery. You never want to hear the story of the nice guy I met in the elevator, you want to hear about the time I was in an elevator with this asshole,” Quinn colorfully remarked in his distinct Brooklyn accent.
He leads off his set through anecdotes of these annoying situations on a micro, personal level before applying the concept to the national sphere. Quinn’s bluntness is not limited to describing people in the elevator. His off-broadway show, “Colin Quinn: The New York Story,” and book, “The Coloring Book,” are both inundated with language that seems politically incorrect in modern liberal society and often references ethnic stereotypes, leaving no group spared.
Despite this, Quinn insists that his style of race relations promotes unity more than division and speaks to the original intention of comedy.
“Comedy used to be the place where people could take chances. Nowadays, everything’s politically incorrect and people are scared to take those chances. I work with generalizations, and my audience sees I’m comfortable with them and know what I’m talking about, that’s why they laugh,” Quinn said.
Quinn’s comfort comes from his upbringing in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn during the 1960’s, a time when the neighborhood’s ethnic make-up quickly diversified. It was also during his formative years in Park Slope when Quinn realized that he was a “pain in the ass” in school and could make people laugh, although he did not formally pursue a comedy career until his mid-twenties.
While it certainly was a long journey to go from wise-cracking in the classroom to stints on MTV and Comedy Central, Quinn’s advice for those wanting to follow in the path of stand-up is simple.
“Write what you want to talk about in story form first. Think about what you thought about when something happened and how it made you feel. Don’t try to write the jokes first. Jokes are the most important part of comedy of course, but they come naturally if you just tell the story,” Quinn said.
Quinn comes to Madison on Saturday, March 3rd at 7 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre. Tickets are $35.