BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In “Red State Blue State,” the 2019 Netflix special from stand-up comic Colin Quinn, a divided America is the focus.
“Most people want the same things– Dallas, Omaha, Sacramento, New York– people everywhere want family, community, security, universal values, but if we can’t agree how to get these things after all these years, maybe we need to take some time apart, separate, divorce, consciously uncouple,” the celebrated New York comedian and actor opened.
After discussing the cultural, social and political divides across the United States, Quinn concluded his set by describing each state the same way he would during a roast.
What does he think about Mississippi?
“Mississippi, it’s 90 degrees every day. How are you still 300 pounds?”
What about Maryland?
“Maryland, you can’t steal everybody else’s accent and combine them and call it your accent.”
And New Jersey?
“A bad idea that continued.”
However, Quinn arguably saved one of his more brutal barbs for the Heart of Dixie.
“Alabama, if it wasn’t for football, no one would know who you are,” he half-joked to an audibly bemused audience.
Now, Quinn has a lot more to say about Alabama and America as a whole in his new book, “Overstated: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States,” which was released Tuesday. Quinn’s book largely covers the premise that despite being part of the same country, the states are both very different from one another other, yet also have more in common with each other than their inhabitants would care to admit.
“I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states, not counting the Dakotas and Wyoming, so I guess I’ve been to all 50,” Quinn writes in the opening of “Overstated.” “And I’d always be excited to visit the different states over the years after reading and seeing about them on TV.”
“But every time I go to different states it’s like going to a family wedding or reunion where all the distant cousins are gathered. You get the feeling that these people are nothing like you. You can’t believe you are related to them. But then you see them make a gesture or a facial expression and you go, ‘Oh yeah, I see how we have the same blood.'”
Like “Red State Blue State,” “Overstated” dives into states’ unique histories, highlighting the role their differences play in America’s diverse culture.
However, in contrast to the Netflix special, the state of Alabama occupies a fair share of Quinn’s words.
“Alabama is football,” Quinn writes. “Everybody down South and in the Midwest loves football, but Alabama is the only state where the kids are bred to play. In other states, moms don’t set up playdates with the strength-and-conditioning coaches when the kid is seven.”
Covering Alabama topics as varied as the Montgomery Bus Boycotts to Crimson Tide fan Harvey Updyke poisoning the Toomers Oaks at Auburn University, Quinn felt Alabama was a state that represented how different people can be across America.
“I mean, they’ve got Mississippi on one side of them–the Randy Quaid family to their Griswolds,” he said. “And then they’ve got Florida on the other side, which is the state whose sign says ‘Welcome to Florida! Excuse the place, I didn’t get a chance to clean up from last night.”
Describing Alabama as firmly established in its Southern heritage, Quinn pointed out how Alabamians, like many people, don’t take kindly to lecturing from outsiders.
“Alabama is the South and they won’t ever not be,” he said. “They like church and they hate abortion. And everybody says you have to evolve, but if evolution means being like the North, Alabama will probably look and say the North got its own problems. It’s hard to take advice from any state because none of ’em seem to be doing it well enough to be ordering any of the others around.”
Quinn concluded his thoughts on the Yellowhammer State by saying that short of a constitutional convention or “mandatory American group-therapy conventions,” things will never be perfect.
“Because nothing’s perfect, except that 50-yard spiral that the kid from Muscle Shoals threw last week against Mobile Central,” Quinn joked.
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