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Review: Colin Quinn: Unconstitutional 

Jeanie Riess says the comedian's take on the U.S. Constitution was sometimes funny, sometimes plodding

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Photo by mark Lavoie

Colin Quinn issued a disclaimer to the crowd at the Joy Theater at the beginning of his show Unconstitutional: "You're New Orleans," he said in his punchy New York timbre. "You're not even part of this country."

  In his 90-minute show based on his reading of the U.S. Constitution, Quinn argued that the country is about to break up, but New Orleans is left out of that conversation entirely, "because you guys really don't give a shit."

  In the touring version of his off-Broadway show, the former Saturday Night Live cast member revealed a sizable 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 production involves more staging than a standup show, and the text of various constitutional amendments was projected on both sides of the stage.

  Quinn drew on fragments of the country's founding document to hint at the nation's eventual demise. The American dream, he said, is like a yogurt shop, where everyone can order their soft serve any way they want it, perfectly customized to their tastes. But it's impossible for everyone to be happy, and as a result of thinking we can solve every problem, we're broke and we hate each other.

  Quinn offered an engaging analysis of some of the country's biggest problems and had a lot of folks laughing. In one such moment, he touched on the disappearing need for the press, given the Internet's ability to turn anyone with a popular Twitter account into the press.

  "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 funny jabs at American icons from Ben Franklin to the Kardashians, other parts of the show were plodding, such as a lengthy run-through of the physical appearance of nearly every single American president. The vision 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." — JEANIE RIESS


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