Writer/comedian Colin Quinn is probably best known through his extensive work in television including MTV's "Remote Control," Comedy Central's "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn," and "Saturday Night Live." However he has also performed in hit comedies such as "A Night at the Roxbury" (1998) and "Grown Ups" (2010) and has written and performed in one-man shows, including his most recent show, "Unconstitutional" which comes to Milwaukee's Marcus Center on April 8. Yesterday, March 21, Quinn took the time to share details on his new show and how he got the project running.
"Unconstitutional" covers "226 years of American Constitutional calamities in 70 minutes" by taking The Constitution and seeing how America has shaped and developed as a result of it. In Quinn's own words,
["Unconstitutional" is] discussing America today based on The Constitution, so how our personality got drawn. Religion is what influences most of the countries, you know, either the Bible or the Quran or the lack of religion, but in our country it's The Constitution.
The idea to pursue a career in comedy came to Quinn from watching different comedians come on "The Tonight Show", most memorably David Brenner. He reflected saying,
I thought, 'Wow, this seems like a cool guy!' He can still be a comedian and still be like this player, y'know? He had the leather jacket and like this shag haircut and gold chains.. it was so funny.
Though this was a particularly memorable moment in his formative years, Quinn said he knew from the age of 12 that he wanted to pursue a career in comedy when he noticed his talent for getting a laugh from his classmates in school adding, "I was always a big mouth. I always got laughs."
Besides David Brenner, Quinn named Richard Pryor and George Carlin as two of his major influences saying,
Richard Pryor and George Carlin were the ones that really hit me when I was a kid. I used to listen to their albums all the time and be like, 'Oh my God, this is unbelievable!' They were the early ones. They were a lot of people's inspiration, probably.
He added that several comedians who have passed away continue to inspire him, such as Bill Hicks, Patrice O'Neal and Greg Giraldo.
Colin Quinn is most popularly known for his five year run on "Saturday Night Live," of which he says,
It's a special place and it's a very exciting place. It's got a couple of ups and downs like any job but it's definitely an exciting place.
Quinn was writing material for SNL, as well as performing, and continues to write his own work as evidenced in "Unconstitutional." And though he said writing and performing his own one-man shows is more pressure than group effort such as SNL, he added it's why he came into the business.
He wrote "Unconstitutional" over eight or nine months in a club where he constantly worked through material until he ultimately found what he wanted to say in the show. Quinn explained the show's conception saying,
I started with the idea that The Constitution was the anti-bullying document and tore up different kinds of bullying and ended up with the show that said basically The Constitution has created the national American personality for better or for worse…maybe both.
"Unconstitutional" aims to look at America's personality as a result of The Constitution, but it does so by mixing the various areas of American life from pop culture to politics and beyond. As Quinn says,
When you think of our culture, you can be watching on TV and get an image of Hillary Clinton next to an image of Miley Cyrus on the news.
When asked about the political direction of the show, he said,
It's got a political lean but I don't know if it leans left or right. It's just political.
This being said, Quinn added that the show isn't for those who are overly sensitive or extreme on either end of the political spectrum, as "it's not particularly politically correct." Similarly, the show might not suit those younger than those in high school due to the themes and adult language.
It's good for high school kids in the sense that it gives you the whole structure of The Constitution mingled in you can understand what it's trying to say.
Ultimately, "Unconstitutional" is a brand new show that takes a historical document Americans all know (to varying degrees) and incorporates Colin Quinn's sharp sense of humor while raising more important questions.
I want [audiences] to take away that we are in a really weird phase right now as a country and we better find a solution to it. We're in a weird psychological phase and we've lost all compromise and it's just vitriolic, fighting and bickering. It's just ugly. It's an ugly vibe right now.
Colin Quinn makes his first ever visit to Milwaukee on his "Unconstitutional" tour on April 8 at the Marcus Center's Vogel Hall. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are on sale now by calling (414)273-7206 or online.