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Q&A: Colin Quinn on SNL’s 40th Anniversary, Cosby and His ‘Cop Show’

Q&A: Colin Quinn on SNL’s 40th Anniversary, Cosby and His ‘Cop Show’ :

Colin Quinn has often been accused of copping an attitude, from his 1998-2000 stint as “Weekend Update” anchor on Saturday Night Live to his hilariously deadpan troll-baiting on Twitter these days. Now he’s taking the next logical step, playing an abrasive police-drama star named Colin Quinn in the new web sitcom Cop Show, launching on Lexus’ LStudio.com Feb. 18. The 55-year-old Brooklyn-born stand-up sat down with Playboy.com to discuss SNL’s 40th anniversary special (airing Feb. 15 at 8 pm on NBC) and his memories — or lack thereof — of his roles in Crocodile Dundee II and The Cosby Show.

How did the concept for Cop Show come together?
It was just one of those things. I’ve never been on Law & Order. It’s ridiculous! I live downtown, near the Law & Order set, and I was walking by, and I thought, “I’m going to make my own Law & Order”!

How did it end up on Lexus’ website?
They were the only ones who would put the money up. I brought it everywhere, and they told me to pound sand.

Do you get a free Lexus out of the deal?
I don’t know. I hope so. I’d like one. That would be ideal. But let’s face it — how long can this really last? I can’t imagine things going smoothly with me and any kind of corporate entity.

How close is “Colin Quinn” on Cop Show to the real Colin Quinn?
It’s a little bit of my Twitter self. It’s me in an ideal world if people had the kind of reverence for me that I expect.

Jerry Seinfeld guest-stars in the first episode. Was he returning the favor for you doing his Web show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?
I don’t think Jerry considers me doing his show a favor. He’s not like, “Hey, I’m doing this little start-up — can somebody help me?”

You just taped your latest one-man show, Unconstitutional, in Tarrytown, NY, after polishing it at The Creek and the Cave comedy club in Long Island City. I’d heard you were going to film it in Washington, D.C. What happened?
D.C. Law & Order-ed me! My career doesn’t always flow the way I want it to. It’s a curious thing.

What’s next for you? I saw you working out a new show at the Woodstock Comedy Festival last year.
Yeah, it’s going good. It’s all about ethnicity and race.

You’re not concerned about doing that kind of material in the current climate?
The show should be called Tone Deaf because apparently that’s what I am. There could not be a worse time to do it, but that’s who I am.

You’re also on Girls. That show depicts a different Brooklyn than the one you grew up in. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen?
It’s 100 percent white now. I never saw that coming. It all started in 1994 when I came back from living in California for two years, and we were driving down Coney Island Avenue, which is really the heart of Brooklyn. And I saw a Domino’s Pizza place. Really, that was the end of Brooklyn for me. Everyone wants to blame the hipsters, but Brooklyn ended a long time ago.

Will you be attending the big SNL 40th Anniversary special?
Oh, I’ll be there. For the first time in my life, I bought a tux. It’s gonna be a really emotional thing for everybody. It’s a wild thing.

Are there any cast members you’ve never met that you’re excited to see?
No, I’ve pretty much met them all. And it would be weird if I fawned over somebody. It would come off as creepy. Sometimes I try to be sincere, and people think I’m being sarcastic. They’re like, “You fucking prick!”

Do you still watch the show?
Yeah, but not every episode. It’s one of those things that’s always on the verge of being a disaster. And then it’s like, “Holy shit, they pulled it together!” It’s like the opposite of the Jets: Every year I think they’re going to be great, and they fall apart.

Is it true you’ve got a book coming out in June?
I do. It’s kind of my memoirs. It’s called The Coloring Book. It’s about growing up with all these different ethnic groups in Park Slope, which I know is hard to believe was once a very integrated neighborhood.

You guest-starred on The Cosby Show in 1988. What are your memories of that experience?
For some reason, I don’t have any memory. I woke up and didn’t remember anything. [Laughs.] I was in a cab going home. I know, that’s not funny. I shot my scene separately, but I went to a read-through, and I remember being in love with Lisa Bonet, and Cosby smacking the script out of my hands. The character I was playing was a kind of Gallagher-like standup, so that was his way of saying he didn’t like my jokes.

I didn’t realize you wrote for In Living Color.
Yeah, and Showtime at the Apollo. I’ve got a ghetto past going on. I wrote for the last season of In Living Color, and Jim Carrey was leaving to go do Animal Whatever-The-Fuck-It Was.

You mean, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective?
Yeah, I had read that script. It had been floating around for years. I was like, “This poor guy, going to do that piece of shit.” But it just goes to show, one person like him can take something and make it something else.

What was it like working with Paul Hogan on Crocodile Dundee II?
I only had one line, but I read the script and said, “You know what this is missing? Authentic New York.” I rewrote it with me as an authentic New Yorker leading him around the city. I handed it in, and they ignored it, thank God. They could’ve fired me for impertinence. If you want to study DSM-IV delusions of grandeur and narcissism, that script would be a good example. Paul Hogan was a huge star, and I wrote it like we were equals.

But where is he now?
Exactly. He should’ve listened. Because Crocodile Dundee II wasn’t that good.


Currently Senior Articles Editor for Closer Weekly, Bruce Fretts wrote TV Guide Magazine‘s wildly popular “Cheers & Jeers” column for 10 years. His work has also been published in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Emmy, Vulture.com, Esquire.com and Digital Spy. You can follow him on Twitter @brucefretts.

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