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Colin Quinn Unconstitutional: Theater Review

Colin Quinn Unconstitutional - H 2013
Mike Lavoie

The Bottom Line

This examination of the country's seminal political document manages to be both hilarious and educational.

Venue

The Barrow Street Theatre, New York (runs through July 23)

Writer-performer

Colin Quinn

Director

Rebecca A. Trent

The veteran comedian delivers riffs on the U.S. Constitution in his new solo show.

In his last solo show, Long Story Short, Colin Quinn tackled no less a subject than the history of civilization. He takes aim at a narrower target in Colin Quinn Unconstitutional, his comic dissection of the creation of our country’s seminal political document. But the results are no less hilarious.

Currently playing a limited off-Broadway run, the show, like its predecessor, seems destined for Broadway and cable television exposure.

Quinn has very cleverly carved out a niche for himself with these thematically cohesive stand-up shows. Rather than deliver a series of jokes on randomly diverse topics, he’s formulated a template that allows for both genuinely educational factoids and hilarious observations on subjects more sophisticated than those generally addressed in your local comedy club.

For this hour-long show directed by Rebecca A. Trent, the burly, raspy-voiced comedian delivers riffs about the 1787 Constitutional Convention -- “a four month drunken pub crawl” -- and the document it produced, with an emphasis on its modern-day repercussions. Despite the show’s historical theme, he allows himself plenty of wiggle room for gags about such sure-fire laugh-getters as the Kardashians.

Interspersing his monologue with projections of excerpts from the document -- which he laughingly reminds us that barely anyone’s ever read despite its being only four pages long -- he begins with an analysis of its preamble or, as he refers to it, “a drunken, delusional promise.”

He proceeds to such subjects as the Supreme Court, about which he says, “It’s the only lifetime job…except for college football coaches, and you see how well that’s working out,” and the Second Amendment, for which he defends the Founding Fathers with the explanation that at the time “20 percent of the country was bears.”

Along the way, he finds time to take aim at such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen. “If you really gave a shit about the working man, would you do a 4½ hour concert on a Tuesday night?” he quite reasonably asks.

Delivering his often provocative observations in a rapid-fire fashion in which he barely seems to pause to take a breath, Quinn manages to make the seemingly dry subject matter come alive in wonderfully riotous fashion. He’s like the best college history professor that you never had.

The show transfers to the Cherry Lane Theatre for a three-week extension, July 4-23.

Venue: Barrow Street Theatre, New York (runs through July 23)

Writer-performer: Colin Quinn

Director: Rebecca A. Trent

Producers: Mike Lavoie, Brian Stern

Set designer: James Fauvell

Lighting designer: Sarah Lurie

Costume designer: Alexis Forte

Sound designer: Av Electro

Presented by Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Barrow Street Theatre