Colin Quinn thinks the world is not only a village, but a big family. Like yours or mine who travels to a family holiday, maintains a civil conversation, offers to drive a few stragglers home, and, as each person leaves the car says, “What the f*** WAS that – or something along those lines. He is smart, and he is very, very funny. Quinn is the kind of comedian – like Twain, Poundstone and Cosby – who will attract an audience that rarely goes to theatre and force them to reflect and learn in between the laughs.
Long Story Short is a combination of Speed Dating and History with a few detours along the way. We are descended from not-nice people, according to Quinn. We are not descended from the people who stood patiently in line and said, “After you,” to anyone who wanted to cut in. We are descended from the people who snatched and grabbed and took charge.
Superiority initially came from posture: the taller could look down on the stooped. This developed into a boss/worker mentality with the young snooping around and planning on a coup as soon as possible. We developed brains, which immediately led to the need to do something with them. A lot of time was invested in blame, whence came mythology and the gods. Things went well as long as there was a third party on whom to accord blame and or praise. Philosophy followed soon thereafter but that was set on its ear when Socrates died saying, “I know not I know nothing.” This, Quinn explains was a dick move. What were the philosophers who were left supposed to do with that?
Well, one thing they did was to create democracy in Rome which they then let fall apart. Enter the sales force of Mediterranean, floating from one country to the next learning and dispensing goods as well as gossip. About the same time we started playing around with organized religion – specifically Christian – to run things. And, like all good ruling classes, this one depended a lot on jewelry. These were the children of the Roman Alcoholics and they formed their own support group that didn’t listen to anyone. They created priests as their army, one of those ideas that didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. Islam and Judaism had broken off years and years before when the brothers Ishmael and Isaac separated, making their millennium long feud more about father issues than anything else.
While the Middle East simmered, the Brits were happy conquering 25% of the planet in between flings with the Dutch and French. Until they had to handle the Colonies where people took their red coats for bulls’ eyes and India where people were not frightened of death because of reincarnation. The Spanish, feeling a little left out, went off to the New World to discover cocaine and marijuana. In the mean time the Africans were splintering into 55 different countries that would soon attract European attention. And the Chinese were busy perfecting everything except the ability to stop working. The Russians were busy perfecting depression.
Along the way we took sides, as families are wont to do, and developed classes, countries and movements. Then we went a step further and created the haves and have-nots that is still in full swing today, as is illustrated by the world financial situation. The World Economic Forum meets in Davo Switzerland, which looks a little like Heaven. From this vantage point everything looks pretty swell, whereas if they met in Haiti they would know that we are all in deep doo-doo. Like Nilsson said in The Point: See what you want to see. Hear what you want to hear. Those who are successful or in power believe there is a right and wrong to everything. Those with the short end of the stick know that this thought is what underlies slavery. And we are not just talking racial. We are talking the intimate power games that we each experience: the woman who ticks you off when she chooses a floor that will slow down your ride on the elevator; the friend who always shows up late or not at all.
The upshot is the down shot. We are more alike than we are different, but it is too early to break that news to the people in the carpool. Even our languages have us coming and going. Shalom and ciao mean “hello” and “goodbye”. Por qué means “why” and “because”. Happiness wasn’t even a concept until some smarty-pants inserted it into the Declaration of Independence and shifted the axis of the planet.
In the end, with the world shrinking, we are tripping over each other on our way to examining our lives and our navels. We are getting in each other’s way, and there is no going back. We still are what we eat, but more importantly we are what we do.
One thing you might want to do is go see Mr. Quinn. You can be one of the people who stays seated for the curtain call as opposed to the people who are first timers at the theatre and simply get up and walk out. Ah – evolution.
What the popular press said...
"A snappy recap of human civilization as seen through the skeptical eyes of a standup comic."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"Global studies just got funnier and faster."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"The show fairly flies by."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Brief yet fun show."
David Sheward for Back Stage
"Quinn struck me as having pretty good material that would have come across more vividly with better presentation."
Robert Feldberg for The Record
"Quinn with his dry, understated Brooklynese has the perfect delivery for this razor sharp send-up of civilization."
Roma Torre for NY1
"A briskly humorous safari across time, cultures and dubious human behavior."
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey
"In the best insult-comedy tradition, no one walks away with their nose unbloodied."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter