According to Colin Quinn, our personalities as Americans are formed by the Constitution. When the comedian and Saturday Night Live alum comes to Colorado Springs Friday, he'll prove just that. Much like Bill Hicks, Quinn is both comedian and philosopher, and his new comedy special Unconstitutional — which "tackles 226 years of American Constitutional calamities in 70 minutes," per the tagline — is both raucous and educational.
"Nobody hates the Constitution," Quinn says by phone from the road. "It's made us a combination of very hopeful people who expect and want to be fair."
This show is a continuation of his last comedy special, Long Story Short, which was directed by Jerry Seinfeld and covered "the demise of various world empires," which Quinn himself exhaustively researched. For this show, he did it again, reading books more than 100 years old and poring over such old-timey writings as "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution."
From that, Quinn can surmise this much about Americans: We're a nice combination of Greek and Roman, in that we have great ideas like the Greeks, but we're still perverted and decadent like the Romans.
Which leaves the 54-year-old Brooklyn native wanting to understand the "why" about Americans. "We are shaped by the Constitution the way that Arabs are shaped by the Quran," he says. "It's beautiful. We are shaped by everything from the Catholic Church and Shakespeare, and that's how I feel about America and the Constitution."
Quinn came to the conclusion that we are a land of hope and possibilities of making things fair. He says the American dream came true, and still is true, especially for immigrants. He sees the bounty and greatness of what we as a country provide.
"The downside is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions," he says. That can come, in part, from humanity's desire to change, and the reality, which is that we actually don't, he says, adding, "It's our best and worst quality."
"Humanity keeps doing the same things. We want to fix things, but things are not always fixable. You would have thought that when computers came along that it could only make the world better, but everything is still the same."
Despite the heady material, Quinn is still a comedian first. For Unconstitutional he says, "I want to wake everybody up. I want people to totally agree with me on everything. That is my goal. I want people to say, 'This guy is right and everybody else is wrong.' I feel like this is a dream of every comedian."