Channeling the demise of the world’s great empires, Saturday Night Live veteran Colin Quinn’s new Broadway solo show is an articulate – and uproarious – romp through history. Subtitled “A History of the World in 75 Minutes,” it’s much more than just another stand-up routine pimped out with a set and straining to look legit. Of course it’s funny, but with the help of director Jerry Seinfeld – yes, that Jerry Seinfeld – the laughs come in service to Quinn’s thesis that for all of mankind’s self-avowed progress we’re still caught up in the great cycle of stupidity that started as soon as man crawled out of the ooze. Long story short: times may change, people do not.
From his personification of Caesar as the original Italian mobster to his complaints about Ancient Greece and Antigone giving way to Costco and Snooki, Quinn satirically takes on the attitudes, appetites and bad habits that toppled the world’s most powerful nations. Anyone who was a fan of Quinn’s sardonic take on the news during a too-short stint as SNL‘s Weekend Update anchor will know his humor is sharpest when it’s cutting uncomfortably close to home. To wit, on the cultural differences between the globe’s two superpowers: In China they invite their old people into their houses to live with and care for them; here we give them a dollar off an early-bird dinner so we don’t have to look at them while we eat.
Long story short? I’d have happily stayed longer.