Colin Quinn’s “Long Story Short”

So earlier this week, I was given two free tickets (er, I mean, press passes) to see Colin Quinn’s one-man show.  I have to admit a few things up front.

1)  I have no idea why they gave me press passes.  (They must have put my email address in the wrong pile.  But I’m not complaining!  If “they” are reading this, please know I’ll be happy to review a show again sometime).

2)  I didn’t even know this show existed.

3)  My limited frame of reference for Colin Quinn was vague memories of him on MTV’s Remote Control and as a “Weekend Update” host on SNL.

Suffice it to say, I had no idea what to expect.  But I love goin’ to see shows–I’m always up for a good show.  Luckily, as a performer in Chicago, I know tons of talented people and get to fortunately see some great frickin’ stuff on a fairly regular basis–for pretty cheap too.   (Which is why this $50 a ticket show for an out-of-town performer was so far off my radar.  Also, I often don’t know what’s goin’ on…..so there’s that too).  As a performer who has done a one-woman show, I’m especially interested in seeing other solo shows.  So, even though I knew very little about Colin Quinn’s background and humor, I was excited about seeing a potentially solid solo show.

And on that point, dear reader, I was not disappointed.  In fact, I wasn’t disappointed on any points.  It was a delightfully enjoyable show.  Who knew that Colin Quinn was so darn smart and funny?  (Well, probably most other people.  As I mentioned before, I often don’t know what’s goin’ on…).  Long Story Short takes the audience through Mr. Quinn’s version of history–one that focuses on the rises and subsequent falls of different civilizations, the differences across culture and religion, and the basic common weaknesses that we all suffer.  He shows us Cesar as a mob boss and Socrates as kind of a dick.  He connected things nicely so that it didn’t just feel like you were watching a really long stand-up set.  In fact, there were moments where you felt like you were in the living room of a really cool friend of friend who just opened your eyes to looking at the situation in the middle east in a whole different way.  And if you watch a show where the performer is genuine and open enough to make you want to know them after, then they’ve done a stellar job.  Keith Johnstone says that a performer has succeeded when the audience wants to take you home after and have sex with you.  I wouldn’t go that far.  But I wouldn’t turn down sharing a pot of tea with Mr. Quinn and finding out all of the material about England and Africa that his director, Jerry Seinfeld said he had to cut for time or lack of laughs.

The last part of the show contained a brilliant analogy of anthropomorphized countries at a bar at closing time (including a bar fight that the USA picks with Iraq for supposedly hiding a gun).  I am a big fan of puttin’ human emotions on ANYTHING and could have easily watched an entire show just on this.  It was an entertaining and insightful perspective at how ridiculous and timeless all of our many defeats and triumphs really are.

There were moments where Mr. Quinn came off as the cool teacher–that he, himself delightfully mocked–in those very formulaic and mock-able films concerning race relations (where the white teacher comes into the black ‘hood and “makes a difference).”  But here, he’s opening up the eyes of audience members who perhaps don’t always get to see a comedy show that has a strong point of view and a very smart, funny way to express it.

So, if you get a chance, go see this show.  If you don’t have the funds (or aren’t in a city where it will be) and don’t have the kind of connections that I didn’t know I had, I’m pretty sure you can find it online.  Long Story Short is a smart story, funny.*

*Ha!  I sound like a real reviewer!  Too much?  Too cheesy?  No, I’m keepin’ it.  Maybe they’ll send me more tickets.

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