Colin Quinn is one of the better comics doing political satire; he communicates highly complicated ideas through the most mundane and absurdly funny examples. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his previous shows – especially his stand-up “history of the world” Long Story Short which made it to Broadway – all of which which brought enormous issues wittily down to a comprehensible human scale. So I got excited when I heard about this new show about the nominally more minor titular subject of Small Talk. Even though it addresses a simple idea, Quinn still draws examples from a hugely eclectic number of sources, some of which are indeed from history modern and ancient.
Quinn advocates for the lost art of talking with strangers, and making a connection. Oddly enough, me and my husband did exactly that with the next table\when we were grabbing a quick meal before the show, Quinn hits home with his off-hand approach, sometimes speaking volumes with a simple scoffing noise.
His main point is that in this era of social media, the one-to-one human contact gets missed. Instead of trying to make a friend with the person next to you, people throw often pointless hate online. He’s right, this is definitely a wrong turn. To quote: “If you post more than 5 times a day you should be in a 72-hour psychiatric hold.” He applies the same comic logic to gun control:“When people come in to buy a gun, no waiting period but first give us three references. Then we Face Time those people and go, ‘Hey, your friend Joe Schmo wants to buy a gun,’ and if they go, ‘Really?!’ They’re not getting a gun.”
At the end there is a lovely tribute to his late friend Norm MacDonald, whom he credits as the best small talker he ever knew, reading the room and saying contradictory things to left wing and right wing people he was chatting with. A nice coda to a very entertaining and insightful show.
Quinn’s manner is engagingly off-hand – this is bigger and smarter than your usual stand-up, but it never totally leaves that sphere. He’s a sharp-eyed wise-cracker, his take decidedly coming from a working class point of view, or at least from the point of view that’s been formed by being around working class people. Small Talk is jaunty and fun with a biting edge, a thought-provoking good time that I can easily recommend.
For tickets, click here.
For more more about Jonathan Warman’s directing works, see jonathanwarman.wordpress.com.