Comedian Colin Quinn isn’t able to take to the stage in the country’s comedy clubs for now, but he’s been working through the United States in his new book, “Overstated: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States”. As you would expect, he’s funny about, but not particularly kind to, the 50 states where he brings his social commentary to bear.
The book’s introduction gets straight to it: “I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states, not counting the Dakotas and Wyoming, so I guess I’ve been to all 50.”
There are no signs of favoritism.
=> Utah is “The Church of States”
=> Vermont is “The Old Hippie”
=> Florida is “The Hot Mess”
=> Arizona is “The Instagram Model State”
=> Wisconsin is “The Diet Starts Tomorrow State.
=> His New York home is “The quiet state with the city that never shuts up.”
Born in Brooklyn, he spent 15 of his most formative years living on W56th Street and 8th Avenue, “which is generously Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, my memories of the neighborhood are all those little porno booths when I was like 19, 20, 21. I was probably in about half of them. If there were 400 I was in about 200. I’m not proud of it, but obviously, I’m not ashamed of it either!”
The star of the shows Unconstitutional and Red State Blue State talks about the tensions of uniting the states: “here we are in 50-states couples’ counseling and we are about to file papers for divorce.”
Longtime friend Jerry Seinfeld spoke to NPR about Quinn: “He has a really, really powerful, X-ray eye about people and situations — and this is kind of the essence of comedy.”
It’s been a challenge for Quinn to be creative while comedy clubs are closed. He’s had to face the dilemma of replicating the tension and energy of a small comedy club. He says that joke-writing doesn’t work without an audience.: The audience is such a part of our creative process,” he said. “You really work out all your material with the crowd. They do all the editing.”
During the pandemic, he taped a comedy special in a Brooklyn drive-in theater, but with people in their cars, he couldn’t hear or see their reactions.
Quinn traverses the United States but sees the political divides. “The right sees only the positive. The left sees only the negative,” he says. “Right sees this country like they’re at a high school football game in the stands cheering ‘USA! USA! We’re number one!’ The left sees it like they’re at an ICU unit: ‘I’m sorry there’s nothing we can do.'”
“OVERSTATED: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States” by Colin Quinn is published by St. Martin’s Press and is available here.