Review: Colin Quinn Won’t Be Pigeonholed in ‘Red State Blue State’ | Modern Society of USA

Review: Colin Quinn Won’t Be Pigeonholed in ‘Red State Blue State’

Review: Colin Quinn Won’t Be Pigeonholed in ‘Red State Blue State’

Colin Quinn always seems like a barstool philosopher, some guy you’d see holding forth — entertainingly, pint in hand — down at the corner pub.

“I grew up offline,” he says, roaming the stage in his new solo show “Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State,” and to him discourse was healthier before social media came along. If you wanted to fight about politics, you couldn’t do it from the comfort of your keyboard.

“You’d have to get dressed,” he says, “leave your house, go to the bar, pick up a newspaper and find someone who disagreed with you.”

Good for him, then, for walking the walk: getting dressed, leaving the house and finding a whole theater full of people who, at one point or another in this 75-minute performance, surely clash with him on something. In a smart, if sometimes shaggy, monologue that ponders an ideologically riven nation, Mr. Quinn is not firmly allied to one side or another.

As he said in his Off Broadway show “Unconstitutional” (from 2013, though in terms of American politics it feels like several lifetimes ago), he’s pro-guns, pro-choice, pro-death penalty and pro-marriage equality. He toes no one’s line, yet he comes across as the kind of guy you might like to have a beer with, which may be as much of a plus in a comedian as it is in a politician. Unlike a politician, though, he will almost surely make you laugh, and more than once.

Directed by Bobby Moresco at the Minetta Lane Theater, “Red State Blue State” leaves the president out of the discussion for the first half of the performance. That frees Mr. Quinn up to talk about what ails us that won’t disappear with a change of Oval Office occupant — and how embarrassing Americans would look fleeing if the country collapsed into civil war: “Refugees in flip-flops and jorts, pulling coolers across the Canadian border.”

When he does mention the president, whom he calls “a compulsively tweeting totalitarian psychopath,” Mr. Quinn lands an impressive one-two punch — first a defense of the economically beleaguered Americans who voted for Donald Trump, so evidently heartfelt that it quieted the room on Monday night, then an excoriating Trump bit that’s one of the tightest, funniest sections of the show.

Mr. Quinn is a gruff presence, and he bristles like any comedian at the idea of watching his words. He must know, for example, that a good chunk of his audience will be unamused by a brief riff on how sexual harassment could be defended under the Constitution, even though he doesn’t mean it as an endorsement. But in other ways — like the show’s absence of ethnic humor, so plentiful just a few years ago in “Colin Quinn: The New York Story” — he seems not to want to inflame.

That restraint is embodied in the show’s excellent design: warm lighting (by Aaron Copp) on a set (by Edward T. Morris) whose wooden-plank upstage wall is painted with a mottled map of the continental United States.

Mr. Quinn throws out a couple of ideas for what to do about our fractured union, but “Red State Blue State” isn’t a prescription. It’s a provocation. Do we want to rip apart this nation we’ve constructed? Or should we try to rebuild?

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