Is it just me, or is Colin Quinn settling quite nicely into his new role as anchor of Saturday Night Live‘s ”Weekend Update”? ”I thought I was comfortable, but everyone keeps saying to me, ‘Oh, you’re more comfortable now,”’ reports Quinn. ”I guess I wasn’t that comfortable.”
You certainly couldn’t blame Quinn for feeling awkward at first, considering the circumstances surrounding his promotion. He got the job after longtime friend Norm Macdonald was booted, allegedly because NBC West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer didn’t think he was funny. ”Norm always said, ‘Boy, this would be great for you after I go,”’ says Quinn, who often delivered commentaries on ”Update” during Macdonald’s tenure. ”But for it to happen that way was horrible.” Quinn has truly made the best of a bad situation, bringing his own bigmouth-at-the-end-of-the-bar voice to ”Update.” He describes his style as ”just rambling on until something is accidentally funny. I’m like 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters.” (Witness his tirade on the Texas execution of Karla Faye Tucker: ”[Her] last meal was a banana, a peach, and a salad…. We’ve brainwashed women so badly that she won’t even order something she wants on the day of her execution. She doesn’t want the other death row women to talk about her: ‘Her ass looked huge in that chair.”’)
He also had the good fortune of having the ripe comedic target of Monica Lewinsky fall into his lap almost as soon as he got the job. The trick, Quinn says, is finding a fresh angle on chewed-over topics: ”By the time you get to Saturday night, there’s been 500 jokes — not just Leno and Letterman and The Daily Show, but Wall Street and the Internet. If some celebrity’s going to f— up royally, we ask that you please do it on a Friday. Then the other guys can’t get it.”
Even with the time lag, Quinn and his writers have had no problem coming up with choice quips (”Kathleen Willey said Clinton…took her right hand, placed it on his genitals, and said, ‘Do you swear not to tell the truth, the whole truth, and anything but the truth?”’).
”The sad thing is, I snapped so fast into looking at celebrity tragedy without a goddamn emotion other than ‘Oh, yeah!”’ confesses Quinn. He seems unafraid to offend anyone, including a certain pal of Ohlmeyer’s (”O.J. Simpson is now taking a law-school correspondence course. Armed with his new knowledge of the law, he is reportedly furious that he was acquitted”). Concludes Quinn: ”If you do this job right, you shouldn’t be able to work when you leave.”
Not that he’s expecting this kind of a sad fate for Macdonald: ”The motherf—er looks like Paul Newman, he’s got charisma, he’s got a brilliant mind. I’m only gonna feel so sorry for him. I didn’t dump out Ernest Borgnine.”
Given the overwhelmingly positive audience response to Quinn, NBC would be nuts not to keep Quinn as ”Update” anchor next season. Still, he’s not counting on it. ”I’ve been in this business a long time,” says the veteran cohost of MTV’s Remote Control. ”And I’ve seen a lot of s— go down.” The question is, Does the Don think he’s funny? ”I haven’t heard,” says Quinn. ”But I guess we’ll find out the hard way.”