Colin Quinn may come and go from TV and movie screens, but he’s always involved in American pop culture comedy. Whether as a joke writer or as a standup working clubs nationwide, Quinn has brought his unique blend of dark and sharply self-deprecating, yet blue collar-accessible to audience since 1984.
He hit the MTV generation’s radar on that network’s game show, Remote Control, before taking a gig as one of the lead writers on The Wayan Brothers’ In Living Color and enjoying a five-year run on Saturday Night Live.
In the years since, her’s made recurring appearances in film and TV, all while continuing his standup career. That comic journey’s crowing achievement is Quinn’s current run on Broadway in his one-man show, Colin Quinn: Long Story Short. Directed by Jerry Seinfeld, the hit run is now an HBO special running this month.
Quinn took time off from rehearsing for the special to talk guy’s comedy with CraveOnline.
CraveOnline: In an era where a lot of comedians look like they’ve never done a push-up and wimps fill just about every romantic comedy out there, your standup is refreshingly guy-centric. Is that intentional?
Colin Quinn: I think a lot of that might be my voice and my accent. I just happen to have one of those voices that’s husky, so I seem like a real guy’s guy. I like guy stuff. Even at my age, I still have to scan MSNBC and DVR every prison show that comes on. If I was 20 right now, I’d be out there trying to be a mixed martial artist – getting my ass kicked all over the place.
CraveOnline: Where do you come up with material? What strikes you as funny enough to make it to HBO?
Colin Quinn: I do a lot of stuff about guy’s behavior with each other. The end of the current show is about how the current conflicts in the world are all like a bar fight gone bad with the different countries playing the stereotypes in the bar.
CraveOnline: Is there one part of your job you enjoy more than any other?
Colin Quinn: If I had to give up everything else and keep just one aspect of the job, I’d have to keep writing because I love. Yes, I enjoy performing, too. But I couldn’t give up writing material.
CraveOnline: As a performer, do you like the Broadway experience of a long run in one venue, or do you enjoy being out on the road?
Colin Quinn: I was on the road for about two years performing and preparing material for the HBO show. I’ve been on Broadway now, and I’m starting to get the desire to get back out on the road again. It’s like a drug, you know.
CraveOnline: In the “too soon” category, Gilbert Gottfried recently lost his promotional gig with Aflac due to jokes about the Japan earthquakes soon after the tragedy occurred. What was your take on that?
Colin Quinn: I think my take was the same as everybody’s else. We don’t like what happened and how it played out, but stand-up is different than what you’re paid to do for a company. If you work with a company like that, you have to watch yourself and you accept that. That’s why comics love doing standup because you don’t have to watch what you say with every step.
There’s no right or wrong because there’s two sides to the argument. One is: “(Gottfried) can say or tweet anything he wants.” The other is “(Aflac) can do whatever they want to do about it because it’s their company.
CraveOnline: What do you think the comedy community’s reaction to it was?
Colin Quinn: A weird sort of awareness set in, like, “Wow. My standup isn’t just separate from everything else I do anymore.” With Twitter and Facebook, everything is universal that everything everybody says gets seen. It’s maybe the first time you’ve see the power of Twitter get somebody fired like that on a national stage.
Honestly, I think (comics) were thinking, ‘Oh, shit. We better be careful with what I tweet if I ever want to get or want to keep one of those gigs.”