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On the debut broadcast of The Jimmy Tingle Show, I sat down and reunited with comedian and longtime friend, Colin Quinn.
Colin Quinn is a stand-up comedian from Brooklyn (okay, Park Slope). From MTV’s “Remote Control” to “SNL” to Comedy Central’s “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn,” Mr. Quinn is not one to take a hint and bow out gracefully. He’s been on Broadway with “Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake” and “Colin Quinn: Long Story Short” (also an HBO special) and off-Broadway with his show “Colin Quinn: Unconstitutional” (available on Netflix) and “Colin Quinn: The New York Story,” directed by Jerry Seinfeld (also available on Netflix). Recent credits include “Trainwreck,” “Girls,” and his web series “Cop Show,” streaming now on LStudio.com. His first book, “The Coloring Book,” is now out from Grand Central Publishing.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- Colin and Jimmy reflect on their roots in the Boston and New York stand-up comedy club scene of the 1980s.
- Colin’s newest one-person show, “The Last Best Hope”
- Colin’s process as a comic, writer, and performer
- Colin and Jimmy discuss sobriety
- They explore whether or not Comedy, as a social force, can help unite a divided nation
Connect with Colin Quinn
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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors
Jimmy Tingle 0:05
Hey everybody, this is Jimmy tingle. Welcome to the Jimmy tinkle show appropriately named I think this is our first episode of our video show and podcast. And I couldn’t be happier today to introduce my first guest. My friend Colin Quinn, and I go way back, we go back to the 1980s in the comedy clubs in Boston, and in New York, I got to meet him way back in the day, he was a big influence to me, a good friend, and we’ve been friends ever since going back, whatever that is, 35 years, 40 years, whatever it is, but he’s done a lot of great things. You may know him from Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. He’s been in a ton of movies. And he’s been pursuing the one person show format for the last, I don’t know, 2025 years or so. And he’s done a ton of them. And they’re all great. And I want to talk to him about that because he’s in Boston, this Thursday night doing his show at the Wilbur theater. So please welcome to the show. Ladies and gentlemen. The one the only from New York City. Mr. Colin Quinn.
Colin Quinn 1:05
Yes. Hi, Jimmy. We first met I saw Jimmy tingle. They go you gotta watch this guy Jimmy tingle and I was appeared boss and I’m one of these clubs. And he goes on stage and he goes folks on the pink wonder.
minute later he goes, “the czar of watertown!. Look at him. He has like 10 nicknames that he gave himself. He goes Folks, spike Tingle! It was always act. She was very unique. I knew from the beginning I said, this guy’s really great.
Jimmy Tingle 1:45
He’s really great. A man of many nicknames
Colin Quinn 1:47
Yes, he himself like a think names during that call. And,
Jimmy Tingle 1:51
you know, when I was trying to get booked at the ding Ho, Barry Crimmins. I was the boss daytime bartender and open mic before him. I said Barry, why don’t you booked me. He goes, Jimmy, I can’t tell Steven right and plenty clock and you know, Paula Poundstone. Not to come in on Saturday because we’re gonna book tinggal he goes, You got to start your own room. Start your own room. You can book it, you can host it. You’ll get all sorts of practice. So I found that room in Watertown. Marks pub in Watertown. I think it was Lenny or Barry nicknamed me the czar of Watertown, because you didn’t get into Watertown, Massachusetts, unless you went through me. So that’s how I got that nickname. But I think that whole idea of creating your own gigs, taking the initiative on your own is something that I’m still doing with this podcast. I mean, you been doing for many years with the one person show format. So Colin, first of all, I just want to talk about the show that you’re doing on tour right now is called the last best hope. Tell me about this, how it materialized? And are you the last best hope is what I want to know.
Colin Quinn 2:55
That’s exactly right. Calling when the last best hope. And yeah, because it materialized just because I mean, it’s look, you know what I know so much of his stand up, like when people say one man show with stand ups, and we reason stand up. But we like to be thematic. So you can’t be thematic in a comedy club for an hour, you kind of have to digress, you have to talk to the crowd, you have to deal with different situations. You can’t just be thematic, which is good. You don’t just stick to the script completely, because that’s not how we think or want to live. But this new show is an extension of Red State Blue State. It’s about how this country is basically shot hoisted by our own success, and every country has their has their thing, you know, it’s not like we’re unique, but in our own way, how we’re falling apart, you know,
Jimmy Tingle 3:50
right? Well, the show that you did before, I haven’t seen this one, I’m gonna go see Thursday night, January 13, at the Wilbur theater here in Boston. And I’m looking forward to that. But I did see the other one, though, your previous one red state blue state. And that was really about the divide in the country. So I’m curious, as you travel around the country, what are you seeing because you’re not just New York and Boston, and in LA, you’re all over the place. So what are you seeing around the country?
Colin Quinn 4:20
Social media just makes everyone see it all the time? It’s like having the lights on 24/7. I just see a bunch of states that are like, No, this is not what I consider the way I want to live. And that’s every state and every person. That’s an issue.
Jimmy Tingle 4:37
Right? So they all have their local desires right around everything from education, to axes to the legalization of pot to everything
Colin Quinn 4:47
to culture itself. Yeah. Yeah. Even something as simple as cursing. I remember years ago going to like, somewhere in rural Indiana and I was doing a show and casual I don’t care Not much of my act. And his lady came up to me afterwards. It’s because you’re a real potty mouth. Laugh and she was dead serious. I was like, oh, yeah, people don’t curse as much in the Midwest as they do in some places where we hang out, you know,
Jimmy Tingle 5:15
definitely. I can remember doing the punch line in Columbia, South Carolina, and I got the same feedback. I don’t swear a lot either in the show. Yeah, I used the term at the time. God damn. And that was like, this is the Bible Belt. And God damn is like worse than the F bomb. Right? And God, yeah, highly offensive, highly offensive. And a lot of people. You know, people complained about it. And this was a place where people are drinking, it was a nightclub, but it was also in the mid 80s. In Columbia, South Carolina. Yeah, that’s definitely one distinction. I think, would you agree that most of the country or a lot of the places that you’re going to just angry at the media, would you say that they look at the media as like the enemy, or,
Colin Quinn 5:59
yeah, they don’t even want anything to do with the media. They want nothing to do with it. They have their own media. And that’s it.
Jimmy Tingle 6:05
The local news, local television, any places in particular that you are both really well received are really not well received that come to mind.
Colin Quinn 6:15
No, I mean, my whole thing is that I am by nature of both sides are so that’s the enemy of today’s society, as you know, to be a both sides are is to be the ultimate sellout. But that’s just my nature. So my goal is, I’m giving my opinion and trying to make you laugh. And that’s it. I don’t care who agrees with me, I don’t care who disagrees with me. I don’t care who thinks I’m a capitulate or I don’t care. I advertise myself as a comedian first. Yep. If the crowds laughing, I did my job. If they’re not laughing, I didn’t do it. It’s very simple.
Jimmy Tingle 6:47
You’re being true to yourself, if because there are two sides to most issues.
Colin Quinn 6:51
That’s how I feel. Yeah, but tell that to anybody in the country.
Jimmy Tingle 6:56
True, but you know, what I love about you, not only your personality and the way you work and the commitment to your own material and your own path in comedy and entertainment and showbusiness. But also your work ethic. I mean, you got an awesome work ethic, when you look at the number of shows you’ve done just in the last five years, five years, you got a book out, you got a couple of one person shows
Colin Quinn 7:20
a couple of shows. Yeah, well, I’m always writing for some reason. It became like a, almost like an OCD thing. And a good way, you know, where I’m always like, when I have free time, I just feel like writing I love writing.
Jimmy Tingle 7:31
So do you have a certain time of day that you do? What do you get up and say, I gotta do 10 to 11? Or
Colin Quinn 7:36
no, I if I did that, I’d be better off. But I just always feel like it’s almost like a form of clarity to me where I’m like, What am I thinking about what’s going on? I start writing. And I’m like, oh, that’s how I feel about that. It’s the strangest thing. I can’t articulate my feelings about what goes on in the world unless I write it first.
Jimmy Tingle 7:55
Interesting. So you won’t have a preconceived conclusion until you put it on paper.
Colin Quinn 8:01
I still don’t have a conclusion. I mean, if you look at the history of the world, just one of 10,000 preludes to war that have happened in history. You know, I mean, this is just our version of a breakup a war, whether it’s a civil war, or England and France. This is what happens when people disagree, and they’re close enough to each other to fight. That’s what I’m worried about. I feel like we’re going to end up being like the West Bank, all over the country.
Jimmy Tingle 8:33
You’re writing almost every day, would you say? Yeah, so you get an idea. You do it on a laptop or you old school right now on a legal pad.
Colin Quinn 8:41
I do a laptop, but if I go to work it out, then I write it on the courts. Yeah. Oh, get the main thought down there. But because my laptop is filled with 1000s of rants, right. Ted Kaczynski probably has a cleaner laptop than I do. Probably more clear, you know, right. But that’s how it is. Yeah. Right.
Jimmy Tingle 8:58
So for example, Red State Blue State. How long did that take you to come up with? And then when did you start working on this new show? Because that’s what intrigues me about your process. Even though you’re doing Red State Blue State, you’re working on a new show while you’re performing the old one?
Colin Quinn 9:13
Well, yeah, because the a lot of the material that caught at a red state blue state, I’m like, Oh, could this be part of that new show? Do I have to just rework it? Yeah. But as you know, how many hours you have a material you never used, used twice, right? So there’s all that stuff, too. So I try to rummage through that sometimes it gets some stuff. So once in a while, I’ll have a bit from 100 years ago, and then I’ll just get a line out of it from now that could be so it’s a strange business because there’s nobody ever set up a maybe by the nature of how we are. Nobody ever said here’s stand up comedy done the right way. Here are the rules of stand up. It’s one business that does not have any of that.
Jimmy Tingle 9:55
Right, which is liberating, but also can be challenging to find your way In the business,
Colin Quinn 10:00
because we’re also add,
Jimmy Tingle 10:04
you have a favorite place in New York, because if the seller,
Colin Quinn 10:07
yeah, I love going to the seller. And then you gotta go up there with your notes and you got to bomb a little bit, you know, yeah, to work out new stuff I can’t do without bombing a little bit, you know, I mean, I do enough old stuff to make sure that they will get laughs to you know,
Jimmy Tingle 10:20
I mean, that’s about the hardest challenge. I think breaking out new stuff is knowing that you’re going to stammer through it. And it’s not going to work perfectly the first time. But if you can get one laugh out of like, two minutes out of that thought, then you got something anyway.
Colin Quinn 10:35
Uh, but here’s the other thing. There’s two things in my opinion, that can ruin your comedy set. One is fear. You can have never have fear. You can ever be embarrassed or scared when you’re doing stand up. The other one is you can’t stammer. Now, as you know, I stammer. I’ve spent my whole career stammering so I feel like I have to really write material because I stammered naturally. But if they feel like you’re stammering and a joke, even if you’ve gotten a I’ve had that happen, where you’re doing a joke, and you’ve done it 20 times, and it kills. And then there’s one time for whatever distraction you stammer, it never works. So when you said stammer that really hit me. Yeah, when people get nervous on stage, they’ll stammer, and then the audience just shuts down. You know,
Jimmy Tingle 11:20
they should they sense fear. They sent a sense, lack of confidence. And if he’s not confident, well, I’m not going to be confident and laughing at it.
Colin Quinn 11:28
I always tell communities, I go young ones, and I go, you do not have the indulgence of feeling scared. No matter where you are, no matter who’s coming at you. You cannot you’re not allowed to be scared.
Jimmy Tingle 11:41
And even if you are, what do you do to overcome that fear? I mean, I think most of us have, you know, that not stage fright. But you’re, you know, you gotta get, you got to get in the zone to go on stage. Like you’re going up to bat.
Colin Quinn 11:55
I guess I shouldn’t say fear. As you say, you never have the indulgence to be uncomfortable. So if I’m in a room, and there’s 30 people watching me, and they’re all people that hate me, my biggest enemies of my history of my life clocking me. I can’t feel ashamed or uncomfortable. You know? I mean, you have to go guess what, I don’t care. I’m doing this, and I’m going to be what I consider funny. Yeah. Does he get one left for an hour? I’m not gonna ever flinch and be like, Oh, guys, I’m sorry. This is awkward. No.
Jimmy Tingle 12:32
Colin, you know, one of the things I wanted to just thank you for and bring up and one of the things that we kind of bonded on early on is when when we did meet, and there was, uh, you know, it was a big drink and St. in Boston, and I was a, you know, big drinker and everything. And you said to me, you said, Jimmy, you know, your problem in this business is alcohol, you said, Have you ever quit drinking? I don’t know, if I get that. She said, If you ever quit drinking, you could be a really big star. And I remember thinking a star. You know, if I become a really big star, I can drink all I want. Yeah, it’s the type of business it’s kind of competitive. And your peers don’t really say that to you. And especially if they’re drinking a lot, too. They’re not recognizing that you had some clarity of mind. And I gotta tell you, that one thing was, like a complete change in my perspective towards the business and towards my own life and career. So I just really wanted to thank you for that. And I know I’ve thank you a million times. But I always want to thank you, because it was so important just to lend some unsolicited advice to somebody that you saw that was having a hard time.
Colin Quinn 13:38
Yeah, well, oh, no, I mean, and of course, it helps me to as we both know, that’s how it works. But also, I had already quit drinking for a couple of years. And in those days, very few people were sober, you know, right. I went up to Boston. And I was there for about two days. And I said, Thank God, I didn’t start comedy here. I would have been dead by 1986. There’s no way I would have lasted in that scene. Yeah, it was it was people are just on stage. The audience is doing coke. The whole place was a man was that every drinking? Forget about drinking Coke everywhere. So yeah, when I saw you always like, Oh, this guy’s so funny, and so charismatic and so smart. But even for that scene, you stood out as a guy that people were like, oh, yeah, he’s in bad shape.
Jimmy Tingle 14:22
Yeah. And you reached out and I just appreciate that man. It was just a life changing conversation. And it was just kind of off the cuff too.
One of the things calling I’m trying to do with this podcast and the show is you know, I started a social enterprise a few years ago, humor for humanity, where you can actually use entertainment and comedy and you know, the one person shows our podcasts for purposes beyond just the entertainment value. So for the people watching or listening, wherever you are, we’re going to have a link here in the show notes that you can make a donation to us. soba house here in Malden, Massachusetts, a friend of mine started it a few years ago. This is an interesting thing, Colin, this gentleman for years, he worked for the post office, we call him pat the mailman. He worked for the Postal Office for like 35 years, he retired, he said, I’ve always wanted to start a sober house. For guys, in this case, men coming out of early recovery, you know, you have to pay for the sober houses. Unfortunately, there’s different, you know, formulas for each one, this one, anything we raise is going to go to scholarships for people who want to get sober need a place to stay, but don’t have the bank accounts, because so many people have burned their bridges, just professionally and with their family lives. So that link to the humor for humanity will be in the show notes here. So Colin, I am excited. So thank you again for that. And thanks for your support of this show. And humor for humanity would love you to come back. I would love to come back. Yeah. Next time you’re coming through Boston, we’d love to have you talk about some other subjects. Anything else you want to let us know, Colin, about ie the process of the new show? What do you hope for people to take away from your shows?
Colin Quinn 16:08
I mean, honestly, I’m hoping that if I could get to a point to really have solutions, because you know, comedy is fun, because so many comedians, they do their act and is a solution sometimes in their joke. And I’m like, that would actually work. And that’s the fun part, too, is you know, of comedy. You were famous for always saying, How about do this, take this group and put them there. And you have all those. That’s the kind of stuff that I love in comedy. Personally, you always had those great ones. By the way, one of the best jokes was it wasn’t the solution. One, but it was in that same set where you go, folks, nobody wants to register for a gun. It takes two weeks to get a phone. Right. But that’s what I love about you is instead of somebody scolding people, you’re going, here’s how I feel. But here’s why you’re listening to me, because anybody could say, I disagree with this. You’re making people laugh and going, oh, yeah, it does take a long time to get it.
Jimmy Tingle 17:10
Right back in the 80s. They were arguing about a seven day waiting period to write to get a gun. And I was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I said, Folks, a seven day waiting period to get a gun. It takes three weeks to get a phone. And it’s like one of those things that make sense. That makes sense. And the audience can hear it.
Colin Quinn 17:28
Yes. Because it’s funny, you’re not you’re not just talking down to people or scolding them or, or acting like, I know the answer you like, Look, I’m just telling you my viewpoint and it’s going to be funny. And it’s going to make sense. Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff when you hit those moments you feel great, you know, right. It has to be funny to orals. Like I said, anybody goes on stage and scold the crowd. I feel like it’s taken advantage of your position and false advertising. Because you’re a sign that says comedian. The description of a comedian is to elicit laughter. That’s where the comedian is the highest form may be to also say what you want to say. Doctors first do no harm. First get laughs So when comedians you up, they’re using the pulpit. advertise yourself as a philosopher, if you’re not planning on getting laughs That’s how I feel.
Jimmy Tingle 18:20
When I listen to certain comics, especially, you know, a lot of the black comics, Chris Rock, The Chappelle, they have insights into being black and gay comics insights to being gay as Hispanic, you know, new immigrants insights to that life, those lived experiences, it seems to me that it’s a great service, when somebody’s bringing something up that the general public might not even be aware of. But once you say it, it’s like, Aha, Oh, I get it. Now, the larger question is, do you think that it’s, you know, comedy can actually help heal the country? Rather than divide us? Do you think we can get to the point where we’re trying to make a concerted effort to do better and to actually unite people around certain issues rather than drive us apart?
Colin Quinn 19:11
No, because it’s because it’s still your lifestyle and your opinion, your journey, right? Even when Chappelle Chris Rock, their insights, don’t even apply it? Well, black people don’t necessarily identify with what they’re saying. So why would everybody in the country you know, it’s still people are still individuals? Yeah. So there’s no sweeping proof for everybody in the world, or even in the country, or even in a comedy club. That’s the problem with life.
Jimmy Tingle 19:40
Right. But when you have, you know, you have 1000 people in the theater laughing at the same time, even though, you know, you have people in the red states and blue states, Republicans, Democrats, whatever, if they’re, at least for that moment, they’re united in a common agreement. That something is funny.
Colin Quinn 20:00
I think that those days are over. But I did. Just now I see in comedy clubs, when you bring up some subjects of consequence. Yeah. Everybody get almost a fixed look before they hear what you have to say. Yeah. And yeah, I know what you’re saying. You might have a better shot at anything in the grand scheme of things. I wish that was true. So far, it has not been proven to be true. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, I feel like everybody’s like, yes, that was a show. And I appreciated the insight. But it’s not world changing wisdom in my life. Yeah, it’s your life. And the way you see things. I’ve had this experience, I’ve had this happen. And I have this obstacle here. While I love it, and I know what you’re saying. It’s not my exact truth. It’s close enough where I can laugh at it. But it’s not my aha moment in my life. You know what I mean?
Jimmy Tingle 20:53
Yeah, you know, what I found interesting, and tell me if you have a similar experience, you can lose a crowd really quickly, on the same bid that does really well, just by mentioning a trigger word, just by mentioning a personality, or a name, or a label, you can say the word Republican and lose half the crowd, you can say that word, Democrat and lose the other half, it was especially true with the former president, but also the Obama the same way, Hillary the same way, Bill Clinton the same way Obama Care, anything that elicits that reaction with a steel door comes down, and they can hear it. So the trick is one of the tactics is, don’t mention those words go into the material without mentioning those people or those words,
Colin Quinn 21:48
right? Or mentioned, sometimes you have to overly mention it and go look, I know, everybody all us over this. Yeah. Right. Like now you almost have to preface things in a certain way. Because people are almost afraid to try to slip something in on him too. It’s a very depressing time, you know, in my opinion, you know, yeah, as far as this kind of stuff. But look, it’s the way it is right now. That’s how it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. Yeah.
Jimmy Tingle 22:13
How is your show been received? How many have you done so far? The new show the very poorly.
Colin Quinn 22:21
If I get three lifts in an hour,
Jimmy Tingle 22:25
Well, folks, you want to rush to get tickets, because it’s coming to a town near you. And don’t hesitate. He gets three laughs and 90 minutes, this is your chance. So seriously, how has it been been received? So far? It’s
Colin Quinn 22:40
great. But like you said, we noticed a little nuance of like, Why do you have to be tense right now? It’s not just those political people. There’s 1000 words, where people get a little bit like, where’s this going? And I can’t even blame them. Because if they laugh at the wrong thing, and then HR is in the audience, they’re gonna get by it. So it’s, yeah, that’s involved, too, right? Everything’s crazy. I don’t know.
Jimmy Tingle 23:05
You know what calling you’ll appreciate this. The election of the campaign of 2016, the presidential campaign, I was booked for like four or five dates, corporate events around the country. In Florida and the name of the show, they wanted political humor. They thought they wanted political humor. Okay. The show I was doing was Jimmy tingle for President. So I got booked in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Southern California, and Northern California. This isn’t the general public, these are corporations, and they’re there for their company, picnic or whatever. And you’re doing their thing. So they’re naturally tense anyway. And they’re inhibited in terms of like you said, the HR department, or the CEOs, their or their boss, or the so I’m doing my my thing. And this is how I learned about the certain words how you can just alienate a whole crowd. So I inadvertently was not doing as well on stage as I could do. That’s as simple as that. But I could feel a tenseness and adjust with the audience recoiling from what I was saying, and every gig and saying, geez, what am I doing wrong? And I finally got up to Bakersfield, California. I was actually in Kevin McCarthy’s district. And it’s, you know, he’s a guy from the hub Republican minority leader of the House right now. Anyway, I’m in his district, and they’re all ranches. I said to the woman who picked me up at the station. I said, How is this audience? How are they demographically? I’m thinking it’s 5050. It’s California. She goes, Oh, well, heavy Trump country, very strong. Trump guy said, really? She goes, Yeah, I’m paraphrasing, but she said this is the largest concentration of Christian schools in the country. Wow. I took that into my head like three hours before I go on and go How am I going to deal with three 400 ranches who are heavily Christian? And what I ended up doing is I did all this personal stuff, growing up Catholic trying to quit dry Again, using the higher power to help me quit drinking all these things that were personal that had nothing to do with politics, so much a personal connection to them. By the time I got to, you know, immigration, which they support, immigration reform, they’re all ranches. That’s who’s doing working on all these farms. By the time I got to those issues, they could hear me, and they could appreciate where I was coming from. At the end of it. You know, I don’t want to leave my first podcast, blowing my own horn, call it but by the end of the show, there was a standing ovation. That’s all I’m gonna say, I love the personal story can go a long way, even though the material on the outside might seem very, very political. And when you’re coming from your own experience, then it can just resonate with people more so than just the punditry. Absolutely, absolutely. Cool. So Colin, I’m looking forward to seeing your show this Thursday night in Boston, January 13. Folks, if you are in another state, and I hope you are listening or another city to show the last best hope, starring Colin Quinn is traveling, touring the country. Go to Colin quinn.com. That’s where you can find out his schedule. He’s a great guy, a great comic, a really unique voice in this very divided time. And as you said, He’s coming from personal experience, but he’s also coming from there’s two sides to every issue, and he might not think it but I think that comedy and humor and goodwill can help unite this nation ladies and gentlemen. Colin Quinn, I love you. Thank you so much for being here for the first tinggal podcast. Thanks, buddy. Great job. Thank you