Long Story Short
directed by Jerry Seinfeld
starring Colin Quinn
MVD Entertainment Group
Right about the time MTV decided reality was more interesting than rock music, Colin Quinn lead the charge with a game show called Remote Control. It was actually a fun show — contestants sat in recliners, and when they lost, they were pulled off-stage backwards through the wall. He went on to greater fame on Saturday Night Live, but Quinn was a stand up guy at heart. Now he’s gone about as far he can; he’s playing Broadway. Not off-Broadway, or off-off Broadway, or some comedy club on 42nd, but the real deal, the Helen Hayes. Of course, for Broadway prices you need a Broadway quality set and story, and Quinn tackles a semi-humorous but informative tour of world history. There’s a set: a Greek stone arena, a sort of throne, projections of antique maps upstage, real lighting, low-res digital reconstructions of famous buildings, you name it. There’s even an appreciative audience, laughing when they need to even if you might be less responsive at home.
Quinn’s a pro and Jerry Seinfeld directs him, but somehow Quinn looks like a politician caught doing something wrong and he’s trying to blame it on Obama. His material is drifting toward a George Carlin observational style, and his comedy “styling” tends towards hectoring preaching. Still, there’s funny material. I loved his running representation of France as a cigarette-smoking harlot and England’s infatuation with her. While he’s not Eugene Weber, he’ll fill you in on some of the details you missed in high school. Actually, it’s a pretty enjoyable Cliff’s Notes approach to SAT prep. You’ll hit the high points — Rome, Greece, China, West Africa, and finally New York City — and while his insights are comic, they’re not far off the accepted mark for what happened and why. Of course there’s a commentary track, but after 15 minutes, all you learn is what comedians think of comedy. Quinn fans should belly up to the bar, and those not as familiar should borrow from fans. You’ll laugh but not always, and this is a long, long set. Don’t be afraid to skip around and watch this over several nights.