CNN To Air Colin Quinn Comedy Special This Memorial Day Weekend

Posted by at 1:26 pm on May 23, 2019

CNN is branching out and giving humor another try. On Monday at 9 p.m. – in the last hours of Memorial Day – the cable-news outlet will air an hour-long show featuring comedian Colin Quinn, who will perform a version of his recent Off-Broadway show, Red State Blue State, with limited commercials. CNN viewers may laugh occasionally with Wolf Blitzer, Brooke Baldwin or Don Lemon (or even at them when they are lampooned on “Saturday Night Live”), but comedy on the AT&T-owned cable-news outlet has typically not been a staple.

Could CNN’s future offer more laughs? “This is our first comedy special. We are really eager to see how the audience responds to this format, at which point we will decide about the future,” says Jon Adler, senior director of development for CNN Original Series, who adds: ”I definitely think it’s different.”

CNN has tested the fusion of news and humor in the recent past. In 2008 and 2009, CNN ran a program led by comedian D.L. Hughley. The network’s “United Shades of America,” currently in its fourth cycle, is hosted by W. Kamau Bell, the comedian and activist who did a prior stint at FX and FXX hosting a weekly comedy series. “I would point to that as a good example of mixing comedy with social commentary and current events,” says Adler. “We are always trying to take a look at how we mix documentary and something that speaks to what is shaping the world today.”

Quinn has a long history of offering his take on the world at large. A former Weekend Update anchor on SNL, he spent two years at Comedy Central leading Tough Crowd a Monday-through-Thursday discussion of current events with other comedians that aired after Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. Red State Blue State is the latest in a series of one-man shows featuring him talking about everything from growing up in New York to the national state of affairs.

The network has worked to gain attention for the show by dispatching Quinn to appear during several of its regular programs, including Don Lemon’s primetime hour. Quinn “has this show all about ‘the conversation,’ and we are trying to capitalize on that and fold it in where it makes sense on CNN,” says Adler. Quinn was said to be attracted to CNN because the network would be able to give the project a healthy amount of promotion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

CNN is running the show during its most-watched hour, the one typically held down by Chris Cuomo. The network will likely be watching to see whether Quinn’s observations leave viewers wanting more.

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