Living by the comedian's rule that nothing is sacred, stand-up comic Colin Quinn was unflinchingly honest when tackling controversial issues like politics and religion, while having no qualms about giving blow-by-blow details of his crazy sexual escapades. But it was that edgy, no-holds-barred approach to comedy - coupled with his trademark gravely voice and mush-mouthed delivery - that made Quinn stand out from the pack. He spent his early career writing for comedy shows like "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94) before landing a highly coveted spot on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), taking over as host of "Weekend Update" in 1998. Unfortunately, Quinn was never fully comfortable in the anchor's seat and fans of the show found it difficult to accept him as Norm Macdonald's replacement. After a few failed attempts at hosting his own comedy talk show, Quinn found his footing on the series "The Colin Quinn Show" (Comedy Central, 2003-04), where, along with his comedy club cronies, he threw hilarious barbs at the world or at each other. In 2010, he embarked on his one-man Broadway show, "Colin Quinn: Long Story Short," which earned critical acclaim and went on to become an award-worthy HBO special. The show served as another platform where the talented performer once again showcased his quick wit and uncompromising style of comedy.
Born on June 6, 1959 in Brooklyn, NY, Quinn was raised in the Park Slope section of the borough the son of teachers. Before turning to stand-up, he worked as a bartender - a job that likely contributed to several bad incidents due to alcohol, including blackouts and spending nights in jail. Quinn quit bartending to pursue his stand-up career in 1984; three years later, he was co-hosting the MTV quiz show "Remote Control" (1987-1990), lending his guttural voice to ask mostly college-age contestants pop culture trivia questions. In addition to stand-up, Quinn spent most of his early career writing for shows like "In Living Color" (Fox, 1990-94), a groundbreaking Afro-centric sketch comedy series that launched the careers of Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier, and Jim Carrey. Quinn also wrote the storyline for the feature film "Celtic Pride" (1996) starring "Living Color" alum Damon Wayans and "SNL" player Dan Aykroyd. In 1989, Quinn joined forces with Ben Stiller to produce and perform in the popular comedic short "Goin' Back to Brooklyn," where he parodied rapper LL Cool J's old-school hip-hop classic "Goin' Back to Cali" (1989).
With his comedic career in full swing, Quinn eased into his new role as a writer and featured player on the award-winning sketch comedy series "Saturday Night Live" from 1995 through 1998, the year he became a full cast member. He donned a lion suit to play the character "Lenny the Lion," an animal rights activist who ranted about the problems at the Bronx Zoo. Quinn made popular the character "Joe Blow," a blue-collar worker who came onto the "Weekend Update" segment to complain about his deteriorating neighborhood. In 1998, Quinn took the anchor's chair on the segment after Norm Macdonald was abruptly fired that same year. As anchor, Quinn was sarcastic and a smart aleck, but he too often appeared flustered, uninspired and had a hard time reading off the cue cards, except for when he ended his segment with the catchphrase, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." For the duration of his hosting gig, fans of the show gave Quinn the cold shoulder as it became painfully clear that he was not cut out for doing one-liners, for which his predecessor was known.
Quinn did not go down in "Saturday Night Live" history as a fan favorite, but he soon found more success on Broadway. In 1998, his one-man show "Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake" earned critical reviews for his portrayals of the colorful characters of his youth - a druggie, a woman who was a perpetual martyr and a toxic alcoholic. After leaving "SNL," he hosted the sketch series "The Colin Quinn Show" (NBC, 2002), only to find it after three episodes for its controversial racial jokes and low ratings. Quinn was exceptionally forthcoming as a comic, which helped land him frequent guest spots on the "The Howard Stern Show" (E!, 1994-2005). Shock jock Stern gave Quinn ample opportunity to regale his listeners with his outrageous sexual escapades that included fellatio from a transvestite, and an incident involving peanut butter and a cat. Quinn hosted the irreverent comedy series "The Colin Quinn Show" (Comedy Central, 2003-04) where he and a group of fellow comics attempt to discuss current and political events. The conversations were often heated, but the arguing was always jovial. After going back into standup and performing for the USO, Quinn reunited with "SNL" colleagues Adam Sandler, Maya Rudolph, Chris Rock, and Norm Macdonald for "Grown Ups" (2010), a much-maligned ensemble comedy about high school friends who reconnect 30 years after graduation. He next starred in his own special, "Colin Quinn: Long Story Short" (HBO, 2011), a film adaptation of his one-man Broadway show in which he chronicles the breath of human history, from ancient times to modern-day reality TV stars. The critically acclaimed special earned Quinn his first-ever Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special.
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Appeared as the announcer for MTV's "Remote Control"; also wrote for the show
Made feature film debut with a cameo role as a gift shop clerk in "3 Men and a Baby"
Played a homicide detective in "Married to the Mob"
Hosted the A&E stand-up showcase "Caroline's Comedy Hour"
Acted in and wrote the comedic short/music video "Going Back to Brooklyn" along with Ben Stiller
Wrote for FOX's hit sketch comedy series "In Living Color"
Joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" as a writer and featured player; Quinn took over Norm Macdonald's anchor seat for the "Weekend Update" segment in January 1998
Cast in a supporting role in "A Night at the Roxbury"
Made his Broadway debut with "Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake"
Hosted the short-lived "The Colin Quinn Show" on NBC
Hosted and produced Comedy Central's "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn"
Played Dickie Bailey, the childhood town rival to Lenny Feder (played by Adam Sandler) in "Grown Ups"
Appeared in a one-man, off-Broadway show titled, "Colin Quinn Long Story Short"; show moved to Broadway in October