hen stand-up comedian Colin Quinn was researching material, he went way back. All the way to 1787 to be exact.
“I was kind of fascinated by the fact that even the people that don’t like the founding fathers never say a word about the Constitution,” Quinn tells SFR. “Everyone loves the fuckin’ Constitution!” He found in the document the main inspiration for Unconstitutional—a fast and for some furious look at US Constitutional history that lands on the Lensic stage on Friday.
“Everybody thinks it’s a brilliant document, you know? We’re in a country where nobody agrees on any thing—and everybody agrees on that,” he says in his Brooklyn twang.
In preparation, Quinn went straight to the source.
“I started reading it and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ…it’s just as boring as I remember.’” He focused on what the manifesto meant “psychologically, more than the legal shit, ’cause I don’t care.”
His a-ha moment then came loud and clear.
“This is exactly why we are the kind of people we are in America. Because of this fuckin’ document,” he says. “Just like the Quran.
The reason Arab people have a certain type of personality is based on the Quran—even if they don’t believe in it, it affects your culture.”
The comic, who took societal issues head-on in Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn reigns in the analogy closer to home.
“This is exactly why we are the kind of people we are in America. Because of this fuckin’ document"
“The Catholic Church has affected Irish people more than any other race of people for whatever reason, and that’s how the Constitution is in the United States.”
The United States’ signature individuality is one of Unconstitutional’s trademarks.
“The bad part is that we’re out for ourselves. The good part is that we’re out for ourselves as well,” he says. “Other people in other parts of the world only think what they can do for their leader, what they can do for the collective, and we’re like, ‘Fuck you! What about me?’ It’s beautiful and selfish at the same time.”
Far from written in stone—or in this case, parchment—the 70-minute-long monologue, Quinn says, is an ever-evolving piece that changes and is tweaked according to current national headlines and pop culture phenoms.
“Justin Bieber doesn’t inspire me, because he’s Canadian,” he says of the troubled pop star. “But Kim Kardashian does. The Kardashians are the story of America, in the sense that how this country got made is based on the behavior of people like that.”
Quinn elaborates: “The fact that they put their name on things and didn’t care what people think about their family legacy; whereas in other countries, people would be like, ‘Our family name—we would never dishonor [it] by being crass or crude,” he explains. “The Kardashians are like, ‘Our name got famous by the OJ trial and a sex tape, let’s use it to make money!’ That’s good and bad.”
“It evolves every week,” he says of the one-man show and advances tweaks will be made when he brings his act to the nation’s oldest capital.
“Every state has its own distinctive thing; every state has some little twist to it,” he says. “Obviously, the whole idea of New Mexico, there’s gonna be a whole little twist on that too.”
Tiptoeing around the issues was never part of the plan for Quinn.
“So far nobody’s really reacted badly,” he says. “I keep it funny [throughout] the whole show. I don’t give my opinion unless I have a joke behind it.”
The move, he says, keeps hecklers at bay.
“Half the show is talking about how I’m sick and tired about how sensitive and how fascist language police have gotten in this county, so they would look stupid if they started saying something in the middle of the show.”
Asked to pinpoint what the problem with America today is, his answer is succinct. “The problem with America is the Constitution. The Constitution gives everybody the right to their opinion, which means that everybody is going to have an opinion and a certain amount of power, and that’s how it works.”
Well that, you know, and Obama.
“Whoever’s in charge—Obama, Bush—we automatically assume that there’s a solution,” he says. “So far, I think the Republicans and Democrats have both proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that nobody has the answers.”
He pauses, “If somebody had the answer, we’d know about it.”