Comedian Colin Quinn, who has deconstructed world history (“Long Story Short”) and the Constitution (“Unconstitutional”) in his most recent one-man shows, now tackles the melting pot of ethnicity that is New York City in “The New York Story,” his new hourlong monologue at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village.
Based on his book “The Coloring Book,” Quinn proposes that New York is a huge tourist attraction mainly because of the people here and their brash personalities rather than the buildings. That way, tourists can brag about the crazy people they encountered here.
He riffs on the attitudes and mindsets of the 17th-century Dutch and goes on to the English, Jews, Italians, Germans, Irish and Puerto Ricans. For example, Quinn claims that the British contributed to New Yorkers’ sense of superiority, making them “blue-collar snobs.”
There is a nostalgic longing for New York before it was cleaned up, back before, as Quinn sees it, Brooklyn’s diversity was wiped out. He misses former Mayor Ed Koch and finds current Mayor Bill de Blasio to be a generic politician.
Then again, he acknowledges that back in the day, pimps instead of Citi Bikes were lined up outside the Port Authority, and walking down 42nd Street was likely to result in a mugging.
Who knows what Jerry Seinfeld did as the show’s director, but Quinn’s musings are full of Seinfeld’s brand of observational humor.
Quinn has a chummy rapport with his audience and brings plenty of laughs, but the show lacks the ingenuity of “Long Story Short” and the bite of “Unconstitutional.”
It’s too bad he didn’t delve deeper into New York history and culture, rather than just bring up generalized stereotypes. That being said, Quinn has a remarkable ability to employ racial humor without being the slightest bit offensive.
If you go: “Colin Quinn: The New York Story” plays at the Cherry Lane Theatre through Aug. 16. 38 Commerce St., ColinQuinnTheNewYorkStory.com.