“The correct sees solely the optimistic, and the left solely sees the destructive,” says Colin Quinn, pacing the stage in his sixth one-man present, Purple State Blue State. Later, he amends that barely: “Half the nation sees a Nazi invasion, and half sees a Muslim invasion.”
Quinn, who hosted Saturday Night time Reside ’s “Weekend Replace” section from 1998 to 2000, is famously centrist, taking exceeding care to criticize everybody. In his 2013 one-man present, Unconstitutional, the Brooklyn, New York, native declared, “I’m pro-gay marriage, pro-gun, pro-death penalty and pro-choice.” (The punch line: “I’m anti-overcrowding.”)
However six years is a lifetime in trendy politics, and declaring “blame on either side” has already gotten the present president in scorching water. In Purple State —directed by Bobby Moresco and working on the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York Metropolis by way of March 16—Quinn, 59, maneuvers extra strategically round hot-button points (together with free speech, intercourse and the approaching American civil conflict that can outcome on this planet’s first “fats refugees”) whereas nonetheless providing ammunition for liberals on excessive alert for false equivalencies.
“What I’m saying is that there are two sides to each argument,” Quinn tells Newsweek. “No matter proper or wrongs there could also be in every social gathering, the one factor that they’ve in frequent is that there’s no nuance. I don’t consider the GOP is evil and the Democrats are good.” It’s price noting, nevertheless, that Quinn’s temporary, brutal takedown of President Donald Trump, “a compulsively tweeting totalitarian psychopath,” will get essentially the most laughs within the new present. The bit entails an impression of Trump going through a Scarface-like demise. However Quinn additionally defends Trump supporters as working-class folks who “don’t like being informed ‘acknowledge your privilege.’”
He doesn’t lengthen that very same courtesy to liberals, if solely as a result of nearly all of New Yorkers are already left-leaning. Quinn is frankly shocked that there are nonetheless solely two American events. A lifelong Democrat, he typically votes unbiased and “typically” Republican, however concedes that “if we went down level by level for [policy on] every social gathering, I’d be a little extra left on sure issues.”
That might not embody so-called political correctness. As a straight white male comic, he’s not a fan of the brand new strain to observe what he says, a pattern he calls “Orwellian.” He’s additionally not satisfied by the argument that comedians ought to evolve with the instances—a sentiment comedy director Judd Apatow expressed in a latest interview with Newsweek.
“Judd’s allowed to suppose no matter he needs,” says Quinn, who has guest-starred on Apatow’s HBO present, Crashing. However to Quinn, the entire level of comedy is “to have a look at the tradition and say what’s mistaken with it. If society’s tradition is the repression of the 1950s, you’re alleged to go after that. If it’s the politically appropriate tradition of the 2010s, you’re alleged to go after that.”
Purple State consists of an off-color joke about sexual harassment, and, like some folks his age, the idea of nonbinary gender appears to him a bridge too far. However he’s additionally notably extra cautious than he was in his 2015 present, the Jerry Seinfeld-directed The New York Story, which featured Quinn’s tackle each ethnic group he’d encountered within the metropolis. That present might by no means occur in 2019, he says. “Now, it’s actually a hardened factor—if anyone says any title of any ethnic group, all people’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’” As Quinn sees it, he wouldn’t merely offend folks; he’d be dismissed. “‘Wait a minute! There’s a white male speaking about racial points? No, thanks.’ That’s what all people would say. It wouldn’t be well worth the effort I might put into it.”
Quinn began in 1984—arising with, amongst different stand-up comics, Janeane Garofalo—so he will get the pushback towards “brutish” comedy. At the moment “there was a number of silly stuff—largely anti-women, anti-gay,” he says. “It’s not like [political correctness] got here from nowhere. However when you determine, ‘OK, that is what’s acceptable comedy and that is what’s unacceptable,’ then you definitely may as properly be the dad and mom in Footloose.”
In his early routines, he was going for a type of barstool philosophy, which he describes as “James Joyce combined with David Mamet. I used to be making an attempt to be Mr. Mental, edgy.” He laughs. “It harm me as a result of Joyce speaks in run-on sentences, and that’s the antithesis of stand-up. It’s important to give the viewers locations the place they will chuckle.”
Apparently, that’s nonetheless a problem. “Bobby Moresco, my [Purple State] director, is all the time like, ‘Will you simply pause and let folks hear what it’s important to say? This present is for folks to chuckle typically too—keep in mind?’’
Purple State, Blue State suggests the rational resolution to the entrenched actuality of divided beliefs is to offer them borders. By the present’s finish, Quinn is proposing that America break up into city-states designed round ideology—lawless, gun-carrying havens for conservatives and progressive protected areas for liberals, the place all of the espresso is sustainable and “the cops pull you over for cultural appropriation.” Given his aversion to taking a facet, the place would that depart him? “Aren’t there little islands in the course of the Nice Lakes? Possibly I’ll stay on a type of.”
Purple State, Blue State is working by way of March 16 on the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York Metropolis.