Observing that American society, in spite of its wealth, is polarized in so many ways today, Colin Quinn remarks that the nation possibly risks a civil war, which he expects will not be pretty.
“This country’s not built for another civil war,” Quinn declares. “It’ll be the first time in history you’re gonna see fat refugees, which is never a good look. Refugees in flip-flops, in jorts, with coolers, trundling towards Canada. It’ll look like a giant cattle drive.
“And there’ll be nothing glamorous about it when kids fifty years from now are reading about the battle of Six Flags, the siege of Dave & Busters,” he adds.
Such derisive social commentary is typical of Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State, the humorist’s latest stand-up stint, now current at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Wearing jeans and an untucked plaid shirt, the scruffy, scrappy (and smart), Brooklyn born and bred Quinn scarcely cracks a smile as he sets up and drolly knocks over his timely themes as coolly as a marksman at a Coney Island shooting gallery.
Carrying on in the snarky comical vein he established in his previous solo shows, Quinn dwells upon consequential topics of American debate such as democracy, free speech, and equality, and impartially treats them all with plainspoken, humorous disrespect.
For example: “The problem with us being a nation equal under the law is it protects the assholes.” And “socialism is the participation trophy of government—everybody gets a paycheck.” The rise of social media, the blight of ultra political correctness, and the encroaching tyranny of Amazon are among Quinn’s comical concerns, although some of the show’s biggest laughs erupt when he wades into a critique of how modern day sexual customs might make Caligula blush.
An equitable satirical voice, Quinn terms Donald Trump as “a compulsively tweeting totalitarian psychopath,” but goes on to fairly observe that he connects with certain disadvantaged people, saying: “Because when you’re still crouching under a rusty sink after the age of 40, you have bad knees, a three Bavarian Cream habit a day, and a 14 year-old pick-up, you don’t like being told to acknowledge your privilege. And guess what? Everybody’s telling you to do that, except Trump.”
Noting that our fundamental differences have divided the nation anyway, Quinn suggests that the country might be better if broken up, like ancient Greece, into city-states. He amusingly envisions the red states as being a Wild West wonderland of libertarian freedoms and the blue states as a progressive paradise “where the cops pull you over for cultural appropriation.”
The humorist winds up his 75-minute consideration of America on the rocks with a bravura peroration during which he disses every state in the nation. There’s Kentucky: “No matter what you do, when people say hillbilly, your name’s gonna come up first.” And Connecticut: “Once the enclave of wasps and yachts. Now a good place to transport heroin from Canada to the Midwest.” And so on for 48 more put-downs.
Curiously enough, the takeaway is not bitter. Spending time with Quinn as he grouses away is like sharing a couple of friendly beers and laughs with the neighborhood curmudgeon who you’ve known for the last 20 years or so—and let’s remember this guy started with Saturday Night Live back in 1996.
Smoothly pacing Quinn’s discourse, Bobby Moresco, the director, neatly situates the performer on a platform that set designer Edward T. Morris backs with a handsome wall of planks. Only later, as Quinn gabs and gripes away about the red and blue state of our national disunion, might viewers notice that the background subtly presents an outline of America in a multitude of colors.
Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State opened January 22, 2019, at the Minetta Lane Theatre and runs through March 16. Tickets and information: colinquinnshow.com