Colin Quinn nearly gave me an asthma attack. The man is laugh out loud funny; at times, it’s hard to catch your breath.
This show is one long monologue featuring Quinn’s viewpoint on history, civilization, and humanity. Gotta say, a lot of the time, it isn’t all that positive; but it is insightful.
Quinn’s take on reality is in the finest tradition of Irish humor. To be a Celt is to have the ability to be happy and sad at the same time. If you believe that life is ultimately tragic, and therefore, we must live every moment to the hilt, you’ve got it. If you spend your days contemplating the color of the sails on The Good Ship Lollypop, you haven’t.
Behind Quinn on stage is a huge screen, upon which is projected in turn The Acropolis, The Pyramids, and the Kremlin, among other locales. Quinn’s global viewpoint is spot on about the way East Africans discuss an issue (as if they were presenting a dissertation); how Russians answer a simple question (what’s the point, anyway?), and the fact that the Chinese people believe that work is The Way.
There are, of course, bits that don’t work that well interspersed with the sheer genius. I’m not so sure that England is really that pre-occupied with France (it’s always seemed to me that they’re much more hung up on the U.S.A.); his section on Islam is understandably too careful, and therefore falls flat; but his entire assessment of Canada is hilariously wrong, and therefore, hysterically funny. If I were Italian, I might take umbrage at Julius Caesar being characterized as the first Mafioso…but maybe not.
One thing that’s glaringly missing is Quinn’s comedic shakedown of the Irish themselves. Where is it? While the performer may feel he’s done this bit to death, he should realize that there are those of us who have been previously unenlightened about his work. The tiny sliver he presents here about the Emerald Isle is tantalizingly cruel.
The director, one Jerry Seinfeld, seems well versed in comedy, especially standup. Along with Quinn’s innate sense of timing, the direction here has helped keep the pace of the piece brisk and precise; at no point does the evening lag for the audience. Be advised that there is some blue material, so leave the kiddies at home.
Colin Quinn has total ease and command on stage. His five seasons of Saturday Night Live have served him well, and he exudes the confidence that comes from knowing that nothing can throw him. He’s ruggedly handsome, in the mode of Scots actor Kevin McKidd. This combination makes him, let’s face it, (in the words of Bloody Mary) “one damn sexy man.” And yes, I’d like to see more, you bet.
There’s an old joke that goes “Question: How many Irish does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: A dozen. One to install the new light bulb, and eleven more to sing sad songs about the old light bulb.” Quinn knows the tune well.
Colin Quinn Long Story Short
75 minutes, no intermission.
The Helen Hayes Theatre
210 West 44th Street
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. She is a voting member of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, International Association of Theatre Critics. www.michalljeffers.com