Thursday, April 30, 2015
Colin Quinn is why I am on Twitter.
The comic from Brooklyn didn’t invent the social media site and doesn’t even have half a million followers. He isn’t married to a Kardashian, he’s not an A list film star or a regular on a Network TV show (he’s maybe the only known talent in NYC area that hasn’t been on any version of Law & Order and he’ll make sure you know that) and he is rather tepid when it comes to controversial posts. So why do so many Entertainers and we commoners find him so compelling?
Masochism, most likely.
CQ, as we of the illustrious gang or “fanily” he often references call him, certainly enjoys the fact that so many people reading his Tweets are put off by them. Annoyed and confused are likely better adjectives, but the joy in following Quinn is that as collective observers of his insidious posts we can all virtually grimace together and then watch him ReTweet the vitriol lobbed at him to his entire list of sycophantic and co-dependent fans. It’s not lost on the majority of Quinn’s more loyal followers that it’s a game of sorts at this point, each of us waiting for his next odd, bloviating Tweet so that we can creatively tear it apart-or him directly. The Tweets CQ seems to enjoy ReTweeting the most are the ones that craftily use wordplay extracted from his original statement. A recent example reply to Quinn’s Tweet, beginning with It sounds like a cliché…: was, “It sounds like a Cliché but I want your skull on my mantle.”
Long before Twitter launched Quinn had a modestly successful career that’s included MTV’s Remote Control, SNL and various guest spots in film and TV. He’s recently appeared on the show Girls as the character Hermie and has recently just wrapped Season 1 of his web-based production of Cop Show, which is in essence an insider’s look (through the comedic and offbeat CQ filter) at a Law & Order type TV series. He’s hosted his own show, Tough Crowd, and ventured into the one man show arena with Long Story Short , directed by Jerry Seinfeld. With his latest one man stage project Unconstitutional, he found a way to meld elements from all aspects of his career into an engaging show tackling that most sacred of American historical documents: The United States Constitution. That show, which I was lucky (or cursed) to be present for a taping of, touches on many aspects of his Twitter posts which often include History, Politics, Race and the Workplace.
What I always loved about Colin’s comedy was that he comes off as one of the tough Irish kids that might hang out on the corner and talk about how he’d like to bang your sister or punch out his best friend for being a “dick”, but then seamlessly transition into cerebral commentary on current socio-political events. He worked his way through SNL’s Weekend Update often times looking (and sounding) like a hundred guys I grew up with that thought they had the answer to every problem facing the world, usually solved with a few beers and a “straight right” to the offenders chin, but cleverly weaving his sly intelligence into the bit and creating a more dynamic character than his demeanor and accent might suggest. He’s found a way in these last five or so years to bring the best of his comic styling’s and charm to his Twitter account, while also folding in just enough banality and silliness to anger some of those not quite yet in on the joke.
What Quinn has brilliantly found a way to tap into via Twitter is the vanity of mankind. The self-obsession that all of us have that begins with listening to ourselves talk, observing how we look and the need to feel as though we have something to say-if not actual expertise-on just about everything. The irony runs deep with CQ, as he Tweets ridiculous life advice or goofy recommendations on how to have a laugh or posts an out of focus picture of the insignificant. With his Tweets, he’s cleverly jabbing at all of us while simultaneously joining in the madness. He has a couple stories from his life that have grown to legendary status, one of which is the time he was invited to Robert Deniro’s birthday party to “say a few words” and ended up performing stand up that went down like the Hindenburg to the extent that it gave the late Robin Williams douche chills, though out on the street later he was apparently laughing with CQ, as many of us do when the subliminal “punch line” of his work finally emerges.
Quinn has a wealth of celebrity friends and admirers though he’s far removed from the A list party circuit and one of the last public figures you’d expect to have such a presence on Twitter, yet that just serves to add intrigue to the comic’s Tweets. While offering up random commentary on the world and its peoples-soaked in gibberish-he’s using the site to promote himself, his relevance and his comedy while simultaneously mocking himself and the rest of us for even paying attention. His use of the site is calculated and intentional but always finds a way to come off folksy and casual. His ReTweets are spread around among a few of his more dedicated fans but always seem to include a number of unknowns as well, offering them their few shining moments of glory on the virtual stage. CQ seems to work diligently at times to appear like a Wise guy wannabe with limited empathy or emotional depth while being Interviewed, but as any of his “gang” that have met him after shows will tell you- he’s a softie.
Quinn’s latest project, Cop Show is a perfect showcase for the comics many layers and talents. With it, he finds a way to bring the silliness of his annoying Tweets to the landscape of mockumentary and rolls it all together with his often boorish observational comedy. The episodes are short, but just long enough to deliver the brilliant sarcasm and absurdity that it intends to. Hopefully a network will jump on board with the show and take the project to bigger heights as its certainly deserving. In the meantime, Quinn loyalists and detractors can continue to get their fix following him on Twitter. It’s a love/hate relationship and at least for this writer I can say its caused lack of sleep, rolled eyes from the girlfriend and blank stares from coworkers who have tried to understand where the joke is. I pay them no mind, as following Quinn is a quest that only the bravest and most dysfunctional souls can embark upon, knowing that even at the end of our journey there will likely be no finale, no resolution or explanation and definitely no closure.
A re-telling of the DeNiro birthday party story is very likely, however.
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