Small Talk is a stand-up comedy by Colin Quinn about the power of personality and how to "stop sucking the energy out of the room." Quinn uses his enigmatic persona to charm the audience with his small talk skills.
The set design by Zoë Hurwitz involved a collage of chalkboards hanging behind Quinn. The chalkboards depicted information that proved relevant as the show unfolded. For example, Greek lettering is accompanied by drawings of philosophers who Quinn later references as the fathers of small talk. While this backdrop elevated the piece, I continually wished Quinn would write on the chalkboards or incorporate them in the show at some point. It was a missed opportunity for these beautiful set pieces not to be utilized.
It was clear from the script that Quinn knows the art form of comedy inside and out. Audiences might recognize him from Saturday Night Live (SNL) or his Broadway and Off-Broadway stand-up shows. His stage presence is exuberant with a strong delivery. However, there are moments when the text needs to land fully. The setup around the ideas Quinn proposed felt like they were building towards something bigger. I couldn't help but wait for a payoff or punchline that never came. This lack of structured text made the jokes feel too similar. At times, Quinn belabored the same talking points that have become a little rote in today's media, like blaming communication issues on the young or new technology. While Quinn is an equal opportunity jokester, his main takedown in this piece is of Internet culture, "like I say in the show, with social media, there's less repercussions for behaving rudely or behaving threateningly. Because it's all remote". In this takedown, Quinn occasionally referenced hot-button issues in a way that did not entirely serve his point. It isn't easy to engage in political comedy without alienating audiences.
What Quinn excels in through this piece is using his personality to captivate the audience. Quinn doesn't lie when he says he is gifted in this area. He holds the audience in the palm of his hand for the 75 minutes he is onstage. Utilizing audience interaction and charisma, Quinn sells his perspectives and hot takes, ending with a standing ovation for the comedian. If you are looking for a fun night of light comedy, Quinn delivers.
“Colin Quinn: Small Talk”
Written and Performed by Colin Quinn Directed by James Fauvell
January 6- February 11, 2023
Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher St)
Carmen is a Brooklyn-based writer and actor, originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, currently based in Brooklyn. They have worked with prominent theaters off-Broadway and regionally. Their mission is to use play to create artful representation by and for underrepresented communities. In addition to theatre, Carmen holds love in their heart for drag performance, crafting, a good memoir and their cats. www.carmenburbridge.info