Produced by Broadway In Chicago
At The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower
Poor diction and mumbling dilutes the comedy
I have never heard of Colin Quinn before I attended his one person comedy show now playing at the Broadway Playhouse. He was on Saturday Night Live and HBO both of which I don’t watch. I’m not a strong fan of standup comedy routines but I have memories of Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Richard Prior and George Carlin – each terrific, articulate, and biting social philosophers and smart comics. I guess I’m spoiled my them since this Colin Quinn fellow seems to be the darling of the 20/30/40 somethings in the audience on opening night.
There was a clear divide in the audience with the gray/white-haired folks (like me) barely cracking a smile and the younger folks laughing up a storm. The senior couple sitting next to me constantly found the husband repeating a word or line from Quinn so his wife could hear. A fellow reviewer who saw Quinn on HBO told me that Quinn’s show had super-titles since he mumbles so much and he lowers his voice and speaks so fast at the end of a bit that he can’t be heard nor understood. That was the case in the show I saw. You’d think that director Jerry Seinfeld would have instructed Quinn to enunciate and slow down for comic effect? Many of Quinn’s potential retorts were lost by his drop in volume at the end or during audience laughter. He should watch a few George Carlin tapes to see how to time a comedic bit and allow for audience laughter before rushing through the retort or emphasis a on-liner. This lack of articulation doomed his show early on for me. “Spit-it-out Colin,” I wanted to shout!
I also wasn’t too impressed by Quinn’s reductionist humor made famous by Jerry Seinfeld. Quinn reduces world history in 80 minutes of ignorant, simplistic and anachronism-filled dialogue that tries to be an equal offender of religions, nationalities and countries. Quinn tries to comically channel the demise of great world civilizations through shallow cliches and rudely crude observations. His rawness lacks the bite and depth of a George Carlin and the bravado of Lenny Bruce. His ‘dee’s-and-doo’s’ speech pattern reminded me of the guy whose always sitting at the end of a neighborhood bar drinking a beer and telling anyone who’ll listen the history of the world. To me, that’s a bore. Too bad George Carlin isn’t around. Still Colin Quinn has a huge following and his show in Chicago probably will be a hit. I guess I’m just out of touch with today’s comedy scene. Quinn fans will appreciate his efforts.
Talk theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 24, 2011
At The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 East Chestnut, Chicago, IL, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $40 – $65, Wednesday & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Friday at 7:30 & 10 pm, Saturdays at 7 & 10 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes without an intermission, through September 10, 2011