Colin Quinn is hands down one of the funniest and most brilliant stand-up comedians working stages today, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s released one-man show after show and each seems to surpass the last for laughs and for insight. His take on the world, the country, and his beloved New York City are priceless, and he has the love and respect of fans and other comedians alike. If he had done nothing after creating Tough Crowd, he’d still be a legend, but since then he’s only upped his game with Long Story Short, Unconstitutional, and The New York Story (based on his brilliant book, The Coloring Book) and he’s also had plenty of TV and movie roles- most recently HBO’s Girls, the movie Trainwreck, and Adam Sandler’s Sandy Wexler.
He’s a goddamn national treasure. Make that INTERNATIONAL treasure. Because he’s heading to Toronto to bring his current tour- One in Every Crowd– to the JFL42 festival. This Friday, anyone lucky enough to be traveling distance from Toronto will have two opportunities to see CQ. First, take the day off work so you can head over to Second City Toronto in the afternoon for an hour “In Conversation,” and then make sure you grab tickets for “One in Every Crowd” Friday night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. I got the chance to talk with Colin about his new show, whether he would ever leave New York City, and Chip Chipperson.
The Interrobang: Your show in Toronto, One In Every Crowd, is this a one-man show? Is it straight stand up? Is it a new show?
Colin Quinn: It’s straight stand up. I mean, I’m always trying to make it thematic in a certain way. There’s thematic stuff going on. But it’s more stand up-y than the other ones, you know? I tried to think of a one-man show, but then I was like, “I did that already”. My problem is my one-man shows were… one’s about the history of the world, one’s about the history of the United States, and one’s about the history of New York. I kind of covered a lot of ground. I screwed myself out of a nice relaxing thematic life.
The Interrobang: You can go real micro from now on. Just cover a block.
Colin Quinn: Yeah, well that’s what I was going to do, yeah. I’ll do the history of one guy in each, one person each audience. I’ll just do a week of Jerry, and a whole show about their life.
The Interrobang: Do you like doing festivals? Is there a difference between a festival audience and when you just tour?
Colin Quinn: I feel like, “Yeah. They’re more comedy fans”. But who knows? I think there’s a difference, but I may just be kidding myself. But I’m like, “Oh yeah, they’re real comedy fans at the festival. They’re inside comedy people”. That’s just what I think. I don’t know if it’s true or not.
The Interrobang: When you’re on the road, especially when you’re staying someplace for a couple days, do you like to check out the city? Or just, you’re there for work and that’s it?
Colin Quinn: Yeah, sure I do. I mean, of course, I do. That’s the fun part. When I was young I’d go to strip clubs. Now I go to museums. What does that tell you?
The Interrobang: People compare Toronto to New York a lot. I definitely think of you as about as New York as you can get. Do you think that’s bullshit, the Toronto and New York thing? Or is there something there?
Colin Quinn: No, I don’t think Toronto and New York are similar. I mean, Toronto’s got its own vibe to it. But it’s definitely, those are two separate, they don’t remind me of each other at all. But maybe I’ll see something different this time. Toronto is a very, it’s not just, it’s not a giant subway system. Unless I’m missing something. New York is New York. New York is whatever it is. I don’t even know what to call New York anymore. It’s so many people, the subway’s almost going to… the subway’s always breaking down now. There’s too many people in New York. It’s ridiculous.
The Interrobang: Could you ever see yourself leaving New York?
Colin Quinn: I would never have said that. For the past two years, I was like, “Yeah, I can see it”.
The Interrobang: Do you think you’d go to another city? Or you want just a totally different change of environment?
Colin Quinn: No. If I moved out of New York, I’d have to move to someplace like the country. I probably wouldn’t last six months in the country, but you know.
The Interrobang: What do you think? Mountains? Beach? What’s the fantasy?
Colin Quinn: Beach. I love the beach. Nobody believes me, but I love the beach. Nobody believes me.
The Interrobang: What is it about the beach?
Colin Quinn: I like the waves. Nobody believes I like waves. I would go body surfing in the waves.
The Interrobang: Do you really? Are you an ocean guy?
Colin Quinn: Yes, but nobody seems to understand that about me. Everyone’s like, “You don’t like the beach”. I go, “No, I love it”.
The Interrobang: Sun, do you like the sun? Or are you going to be under a big hat?
Colin Quinn: Yeah, I hate the sun.
The Interrobang: That might be why they don’t believe you.
It’s like being in the Jim Jones cult, only there’s no poison Kool-Aid to drink to let the pain go away.
First of all, there’s not enough waves in the world. I never realized how lacking the beaches of the world are. I looked it up. This is my extent of my wave viewing. I googled the best places for waves. There’s like eight in the whole world. Hawaii has like four, Australia has two. It just stinks. Then I went on a vacation about a month ago to Montauk. I was like, “I can’t wait to get in these waves”. They put up a red flag. They wouldn’t let us in the water. I wasted all this money on a hotel. I couldn’t even go in the water.
The Interrobang: All right, so maybe not the beach.
Colin Quinn: Yeah.
The Interrobang: A lot of comedians come to you for advice….
Colin Quinn: You’re right.
The Interrobang: Do you like it? Is it a burden? How does that feel?
Colin Quinn: Obviously it feeds my ego, so I like that part about it. I’m like, “Yeah. Well, it’s funny you should say”. I like to talk, like any other comedian. I’ve got a big mouth, you know? But yeah, I wish it was … I’ve always been a comedian’s comedian in that way. I’m just, I’m one of those people that comedians, they think I’m important even if the audience doesn’t. They think I’m very important. I like that.
The Interrobang: You’ve done so many different things. TV, films, stand up, theater. There’s one area that you’ve stayed away from, and that’s podcasting, with maybe the exception of getting very involved in the Chip Chipperson world.
Colin Quinn: Oh god.
The Interrobang: But what is it about podcasting that you’ve stayed away from it?
Colin Quinn: The fact that the Chip Chipperson podcast has over a million views in its first whatever. That says it all right there. That tells you everything you need to know about podcasting.
The Interrobang: What is it like to do the Chip Chipperson Show?
Colin Quinn: It’s like being in the Jim Jones cult, only there’s no poison Kool-Aid to drink to let the pain go away.
The Interrobang: Before we wrap, your tweets are absolutely legendary and beloved. Would you ever put them out as one of those little Christmas books?
Colin Quinn: Yeah. It’s funny you’ve said that because I’ve been trying to do that, but I never got it together. I was like, I wanted to put it out as a Christmas stocking stuffer, you know what I mean? You’re right. That’s exactly what I want to do. It would be great. I’ll ruin everyone’s Christmas.