Daniel Redmond sat down with comedian Colin Quinn prior to his “Unconstitutional” show in Baltimore, Md. last month. Here’s what the former “Weekend Update” host had to say about the Founding Fathers, JFK conspiracy theories, Norm MacDonald and his favorite “Saturday Night Live” sketches.
This interview has been edited and condensed for space.
Who is your favorite Founding Father and why?
You cannot like Ben Franklin? The guy was the king of inventions, king of the Constitution, the king of the sex clubs. A fat guy with a mullet, but he was still popular. James Madison was also the man though … and I also like Gouverneur Morris, he was the Founding Fathers’ founding father — kinda like the comedian’s comedian. He was the underrated guy, the guy that put it all together.
Did you really turn down the role of Scott Evil [Dr. Evil’s son in the “Austin Powers” movies]?
Do you wish you hadn’t?
Yes. [Long pause.] I wish I hadn’t.
How old was Seth Green?
He was much younger, but chronologically Scott Evil would have been my age at the time so it would have made sense.
Did it piss you off with the success of the movie?
No, it didn’t piss me off but like I said, I should have done it. It’s not like I turned something down and I’m like, “Oh now I’m mad that they succeeded.”
What’s the most interesting event in the last 200 years of this country?
JFK assassination, because people sense there is more to it. Evidence is literally locked away until 2025.
I thought the Warren Report was clear that it was a single shooter without any real conspiracy behind the shooting.
Well, if the Warren Report is clear, why are they keeping records locked up?
Because they seal records for any number of different events.
Well, what possible reason would they have to seal these records until 2025?
My answer would be, I don’t know, but I trust they have our best interest in mind.
I feel like symbolically, the country changed after that event. Whatever happened changed the country on a chemical level. People stopped trusting the government. It was a pivotal time in the country.
I thought you were gonna go with Civil War, but that arguably was a series of events.
The Civil War started in the Constitutional Convention. That’s was the original conflict of interests with the southern economic system vs. the northern economic system — it started right then.
In some of your interviews, you don’t sound optimistic about the U.S. staying together as a unified country — how and when will that play out?
I think it will play out over the next 10 years. It will be like a divorce situation, where a couple says, ‘You’re not happy, I’m not happy, let’s break up.’ Then when they break up they’ll realize, ‘I miss them, I miss when we were united.’ There will be logistical problems, like Austin, Texas. They’re red but they want to be blue. There are a lot of places on both sides politically like Austin that people don’t realize. But after the break up, we’ll get back together hopefully with a renewed enthusiasm about the country.
Was it difficult replacing Norm MacDonald after he was forced out as “Weekend Update” anchor? He was the best but you were a worthy replacement.
Sure, it was weird.
Would you say Norm was the best weekend update anchor?
I can’t say whether he is the best, but I would say he is by far the most underrated comedian around. His mind should be on TV every week.
Did you like his sports show on Comedy Central?
Yes, but it was a sports show. Norm MacDonald is a Renaissance figure so to have him just talking sports is infuriating.
True, but the show was really freaking hilarious and they only gave it four episodes.
Here’s the thing with Comedy Central, they want to be provocative. The most provocative thing about Norm MacDonald is that he is brilliant and funny. I feel like people at Comedy Central are like, ‘Okay Norm, you’re going to step over the line?’ But it’s not about stepping over the line. His mind steps over the line naturally. He doesn’t have to act like he’s edgy. Norm shouldn’t be on a sports show — it should be Norm on everything in this world. He was amazing on “Update,” but the only reason I hesitate is that there were a lot of other great hosts.
Do you work blue [(inappropriate)]? If so, how blue? Navy blue being the bluest.
I curse a lot but I am not sexually graphic at all. That’s my Irish Catholic upbringing in the sense that I don’t think people should be talking about sex.
Who are the three greatest presidents?
[Abraham] Lincoln, [William] McKinley, [John F.] Kennedy. The three that got shot dead. They took a bullet for this country. Not only did they take a bullet, they took it all the way to the end.
Any of them need to be re-evaluated?
Well, Ulysses S. Grant got a great rap and his second term was atrocious. Andrew Jackson gets a good rap and he was a psycho. As a kid, they told us he was called Old Hickory because he was a stubborn guy. No, actually it was a stick he would beat people with.
Has Twitter substantially helped your career?
No, I don’t know that it’s helped my career. It’s fun, I enjoy it because you get to see just how many really funny unprofessional comedians are out there. But it’s not like people call me up from networks and are like, “Hey can you do some of that twitter stuff for us on NBC?”
It seems like you have a particularly good rapport with Jimmy Fallon.
I love Jimmy because he goes along with what I’m doing. We know each other from “SNL” and he rolls in a way that’s easy to work with. There’s nothing competitive, nothing weird with him.
I consider you the funniest guy on Twitter along with myself, @danfromdc, and I’ve found that a lot comedians I thought would be funny just aren’t. Who do you like?
What about @stromboli83? My #1 follower. There’s so many funny people out there. It’s global ball-busting with your friends.
What’s the funniest “SNL” sketch ever?
I think it was Bill Murray as Nick the lounge singer. Nobody at the time had thought to mock that kind of stuff.
You’re friends with Jerry Seinfeld. Does he have a favorite “Seinfeld” episode?
Not necessarily a favorite, but I always loved his and Newman’s relationship. Just hating each other for no reason.
Do you do any impersonations?
I do a pretty good Ricky Schroeder in “The Champ.” When he tries to wake Jon Voight up after he was killed in the ring. I’m not going to do it though.
Because I have to sound like a 6-year old boy.
What’s your favorite joke?
Joke. Joke, you mean?
Yeah, for example my favorite joke is why did the monkey cross the road? Because it was stapled to the chicken.
My favorite joke is about the big-mouth parakeet. Guy goes into a bird store looking for a bird. Looks at parakeet and owner says “You don’t want to buy this parakeet, he’s a wise ass.”
Guy says, “No, I’ll buy him.”
Takes him home and parakeet says, “Hey mister, go fuck yourself.”
Guy smacks the bird around his cage and says, “Don’t ever say that to me.”
Next day, guy walks in and parakeet says “Hey mister, hey mister — go fuck yourself.”
Guy beats the parakeet, rips off his feathers, smacks it again. Next day, guy comes in and bird says, “Hey mister, mister.”
Guy says, “Don’t tell me to go fuck myself.”
Parakeet says.”Hey mister, hey mister.”
Guy says, “What?”
Parakeet says, “Go fuck yourself.”
Guy goes nuts, burns him, beats the bird around the room, almost drowns him in the bath and finally says to the parakeet, “Don’t you ever tell me to go fuck myself again or next time I will kill you.”
Next day, guy shows up and parakeet says, “Hey mister, mister.”
Guy looks at him and goes, “What”?
Parakeet goes, “You know what.”
That’s a freaking great joke.
I love that joke.
Colin Quinn’s Unconstitutional dates can be found at here. Follow him on Twitter @iamcolinquinn.
Dan Redmond is a freelance writer who can be found on Twitter @danfromdc.