Theater review by Raven Snook
Laughs, laughs will keep us together—at least, perhaps, for the length of Colin Quinn's diatribe about the polarized state of our nation. Standing in front of a hazy outline of the United States that is rendered in blotches of red and blue, the former Saturday Night Live star and professional political cynic punch-lines his way through American history, arguing that our demise was inevitable from the start so we’d might as well go out with a rimshot.
Quinn begins from a place of understanding. In his view, most people are nice and reasonable, and want the same things; we just can't agree on how to get them. That launches him into a joke-filled takedown of everything from the Founding Fathers to Facebook. He critiques the two-party system and the advent of social media, and muses about the possibility of a civil war and overweight, flip-flop-wearing refugees. He delivers several incisive zingers in his world-weary rasp, and while he evinces no love for Trump, he does express compassion for his supporters. At a time when even middle-of-the-road comics seem to be choosing sides, it's refreshing to hear the no-nonsense Quinn go after political absolutism on both the right and the left.
Yet this solo show, minimally directed by Bobby Morseco, lacks a clear narrative through line. Quinn has mined some of the same subjects in previous outings, such as Long Story Short and Unconstitutional, and his routine often seems stitched together, like a parade of greatest political hits—and misses. (His bit on vigilantism gets tired fast.) But at a brisk 75 minutes, Red State Blue State has a fairly high laugh rate and, despite its hot-button topicality, feels designed to unite, not offend. We may be hopelessly divided as a country, but Quinn stakes out territory for comedy as a temporary common ground.
Minetta Lane Theatre (Off Broadway). By Colin Quinn. Directed by Bobby Morseco. With Quinn. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.