Colin Quinn is an American comedian. He was born on June 6, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in the Park Slope section of the borough. His gravelly Brooklyn accent and mannerisms are a trademark of his performances, as are his political commentaries, working-class humor, and cynical delivery.
Prior to becoming a comedian, Quinn worked as a bartender. He stopped drinking in the early 1980s after several bad experiences while drunk, including nights spent in jail and blackouts that led to him not knowing where he was. In 2004, stand-up Judy Gold said Quinn used to be a "bloated alcoholic bartender"; he himself has used the term "blackout drunk" to describe his previous drinking habits.
After leaving bartending, Quinn got his start in stand-up comedy in 1984. Although some people believe Jon Stewart wrote the jokes for Quinn's stand-up act, this is false; Stewart only wrote jokes for a television show Quinn hosted in 1989 called Caroline's Comedy Hour, which aired on the A&E network.
He first achieved fame in 1987 as co-host of the MTV game show Remote Control, which also featured performances by Adam Sandler and Denis Leary. He remained co-host of the show for three years, and in 1989 wrote and performed in the popular comedic short Going Back to Brooklyn along with Ben Stiller.
Much of his early comedic career focused on writing in addition to stand-up, including a stint as a writer for the popular show In Living Color. He also co-wrote the storyline and was an associate producer for the movie Celtic Pride, starring Damon Wayans and Dan Aykroyd.
In 1995, Quinn was hired by Saturday Night Live, working as a writer and featured player until the beginning of the 1998 season, when he became a full cast member. He established himself on the show with characters such as "Lenny the Lion" and "Joe Blow", and as well as the recurring segment "Colin Quinn Explains the New York Times". Quinn took over as host of the "Weekend Update" segment in January, 1998 after the firing of Norm MacDonald; he remained host until his departure from SNL in 2000.
Also during his SNL period, Quinn made his Broadway debut in his acclaimed one-man show, Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake, and was offered the role of Scott Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery by Mike Myers, though he turned down the role to work on his writing projects.
After leaving SNL, Quinn had a sketch comedy show on NBC called The Colin Quinn Show that lasted for only three episodes in 2002, after being cancelled due to its provocative racial content and mediocre ratings.
Since 2003, Quinn has found success with Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn on Comedy Central, which has received solid television ratings and immediately follows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. "Tough Crowd" has been renewed through the 2005 television season.
In 2004, Comedy Central named Quinn to its list of the "100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time", placing him at #56. He was also named to the Irish America Magazine list of the "Top 100 Irish Americans of the Year".