For `Tough Crowd' host Colin Quinn, a turn on the stage

Comic visits Baltimore's Improv this weekend

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

October 07, 2004|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,SUN STAFF

Colin Quinn's career is at another turning point.

From standup to films to television shows, he's left no avenue of comedy untouched. Quinn's two decades in the industry have taught him how to reinvent himself, a skill that has kept him throwing punch lines in the forefront of the scene.

Next month, he's going to have to reinvent himself again.

Production is coming to a halt on Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn, the TV show he hosts on Comedy Central Mondays through Thursdays. Due to low ratings, the show's future is up in the air, and Quinn said he's hoping it will be reformatted and run weekly instead of being completely axed.

Though his show's in trouble, he doesn't seem too peeved about it. Right now, he's back on the comedy club circuit, and performs at the Improv tomorrow and Saturday.

"I'd rather do live standup 100,000 times more than being in front of the camera," Quinn said. "Live standup is the real pleasure."

Quinn's had the most success in live arenas, from his standup routines in the early 1980s to his anchor spot on Saturday Night Live's fake news show from 1998 to 2000 and his one-man Broadway show, Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake. He also slipped behind the scenes, writing SNL sketches, the 1996 film Celtic Pride and other projects.

"Anything comedic I love," he said. "If you can say something or share something that nobody else says ... and you can get laughs doing it, that's all a comedian dreams of."

He's a jack-of-all-trades, which is why he's stayed relevant for so long - he can evolve. And like good cheese, good comedians get better with age.

"It's one of those muscles where the older you get, the more perspective you get on life, so you should be getting funnier," Quinn said.

When comedians keep writing new material and stay abreast of current issues, the punch lines hit a little harder.

"[Comedians] look better younger, but they get funnier older - if they keep writing," Quinn said.

During his two-day run at the Improv, Quinn plans to touch on every topic under the sun. He'll also dish out some jokes that are uniquely Baltimorean.

"Expect me to talk about my new favorite show, The Wire, about that awful Baltimore accent, and the fact that nobody on The Wire has that awful Baltimore accent - which is aggravating to me," he said.

And what are Baltimoreans supposed to sound like?

"E.T., phoane hoame. Bawlmore."

Quinn doesn't stop there. He goes on to tells the story of his own Baltimore experience when he was shooting a TV show here in the late 1980s. He woke up at 7 a.m. when the city was quiet, and walked to work.

On his way to work, there was a dispute between a scab and an overweight Teamster.

"Baltimore has some of the fattest people in the world," Quinn said. "Not as a general rule, but when they're fat, they're fatter than anybody I've ever seen. This guy was a big fat Teamster slamming this scab against the wall - on this beautiful, peaceful day. That's Baltimore."

Colin Quinn performs at the Baltimore Improv at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. tomorrow and 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m. tomorrow and 5 p.m. Saturday. The Improv is located at 6 Market Place in the Power Plant Live complex. Tickets are $25. Call 410-727-8500 or visit

For more club events, see Page 30.

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