by Jeanie Riess
Colin Quinn had an initial disclaimer for the crowd of New Orleanians at the Joy Theater Thursday night, before he started riffing on the U.S. Constitution: “You’re New Orleans,” he said in that punchy New York timbre. “You’re not even part of this country.”
In his 90-minute show Quinn argued that the country is about to break up, but New Orleans, he joked, was left out from that conversation entirely, “because you guys really don’t give a shit.”
There were seats left unfilled, but for the most part Quinn drew a good crowd for the local stop on his Unconstitutional tour, in which he imparted a sizeable knowledge of American history and analyzed the downfall of the American Dream, sometimes like a goofy high school history teacher who swears a lot. The Constitution wasn’t just a jumping off point for a traditional stand up routine. It was the entire show, with Powerpoint slides of Amendments posted up on either side of the stage.
Quinn used fragments of the country’s most agreed upon document to hint at our eventual demise. The American Dream, he said, is like an American yogurt shop, where you can have your soft serve any way you want it, perfectly customized to your tastes. But it’s impossible for everyone to be happy, and as a result of thinking we can solve every problem, Quinn said, we’re broke and we hate each other.
More one-man show than comedy act, Quinn gave a smart analysis of some of the country’s biggest problems and had a lot of folks stomping with laughter. One such moment was when he touched on the disappearing need for the press, given the internet’s tendency to turn anyone into the press with a well-followed Twitter handle. “It’s like if Eric Clapton showed up to play and everyone in the audience had a guitar,” he said.
While history gave way to some funny jabs at American icons from Ben Franklin to the Kardashians, other parts of the show were tedious, like a lengthy run-through of the physical appearance of nearly every single American president. The scenario of a bunch of drunk founding fathers got a lot of laughs, especially when Quinn took an antique-looking, tea-stained Constitution off the desk at center stage and mumbled, “I said a lot of shit I shouldn’t have said last night.”