There’s nothing undersized or trivial about Colin Quinn: Small Talk, the new stand-up comedy show written and performed by the Brooklyn native – “okay, Park Slope” (one of the most desirable historic neighborhoods in NYC!) – now playing a limited Off-Broadway engagement at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through February 11. Directed by James Fauvell with non-stop energy and laughs, the bitingly hilarious monologue takes an insightful look at our need for social connection through the lens of how we communicate now, and how it, and the concept of personality, have changed over history, with Quinn’s signature style of acerbic observation and commentary.
Dressed in the casual clothes he finds indicative of a younger generation (“kids run everything”), Quinn moves actively around the stage with a hand-held mic, directly addressing the audience and posing occasional questions (“Rate the country 1 out of 100?”) in his rapid-fire delivery, heavy New York accent, expressive gestures, and a sidesplitting frenetic tendency towards incomplete sentences, with thoughts that flow and unapologetically express exactly what he means (“you know”).
Through it all, he takes no-holds-barred jabs at everything from social media and the internet (drawing a witty parallel between Steve Jobs’ Apple and the Biblical Fall of Man) to cancel culture, comparing our present-day negativity, criticism, and lack of accountability or repercussions to the different times of Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare, and others (referenced in the background wall of Zoë Hurvitz’s smart set design), offering sidesplitting tips on how to break the ice and make small talk without “sucking the energy out of the room,” and calling out everything else that’s gone so wrong in our country and our social interactions (“No, I don’t use adjectives, those days are over, believe me. No adjectives, no nouns, no pronouns. I use mostly adverbs at this point. That’s really the culture – supposedly, possibly, maybe”), in a barrage of razor-sharp truths that note how individuals and “citizen personality” have fed into the dictates of a society in the “thralls of mass hysteria.”
Quinn ends with some uproarious original ideas for solutions to the many frustrating problems he sees (the economy, immigration, abortion, gun control, global warming) and by pondering how future archaeologists will (mis)judge us (“Those golden arches must’ve been their churches, they must’ve been very religious people”). Quinn’s spot-on funny, seriously astute, and richly packed performance is supported by clear lighting (by Amina Alexander) and sound (Margaret Montagna). It will not only leave you laughing out loud but also recognizing the clear wisdom of his Small Talk about the big issues of today.
Running Time: Approximately 65 minutes, without intermission.
Colin Quinn: Small Talk plays through Saturday, February 11, 2023, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $49-59, plus fees; premium seating is also available), go online. Masks are required at all times inside the building, except when actively eating or drinking.