Tough to live without “Tough Crowd”

By Kevin Wilson

Last week I said goodbye to something on television, something I had grown to know for more than a year-and-a-half as a basis for analysis, a challenge to my belief system and a way to be informed.
I’m not talking about the presidential election, though. I’m talking about Tough Crowd.
As I watched Thursday night’s finale, I felt a little less sure of the world and of Comedy Central, which pulled the plug on the talk show after about 150 episodes.
Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn was a 30-minute adventure into current events, with banter flying all over the place. What made it different from similar shows that preceded it (Crossfire, Politically Incorrect) is the entire panel was made up of standup comedians.
The hook was simple, as Quinn would often explain. Standup comedians may be offensive and they may make discriminating jokes, but they don’t lie.
It’s a concept I thought wouldn’t work in the beginning, but a few viewings quickly changed my mind. Sometimes the conversations were intelligent, sometimes they were crude, but they were almost always funny and poignant.
Just take a look at a few of these gems from the Tough Crowd library:
Quinn on diversity: “Everybody talks about how we should celebrate diversity, as long as we don’t point out the fact that anybody’s different.”
Greg Giraldo on Michael Moore: “If you’re going to dedicate your career to ranting about the excesses of American capitalism, you probably shouldn’t weigh 450 pounds.”
Panelist to Dave Attell: “I don’t have a problem with (taxing alcohol and cigarettes), because I don’t drink or smoke so it doesn’t affect me.” Attell responds: “Well, then you’re boring. They should put a tax on that.”
Patrice O’Neal on white people absorbing black culture: “White people would be slaves if they could just so they could steal it from us.”
Quinn on the Iraq war: “Pretty soon we’re gonna stop dropping leaflets (on Iraq) and start dropping comment cards. How is the war? How did you hear about us? Would you say you’re a country that goes to war rarely/sometimes/frequently/always? Would you recommend us to another unfriendly regime?”
Of course, when all else failed it came back to insult humor, and most of it was aimed at Quinn. Nick DiPaolo asked, “That’s a nice jacket, Colin. Does it come in leather?” On another show, Quinn asked if anybody else thought the comedian Carrot Top was acting strange lately. Jim Norton responded, “Why don’t you ask him next time you’re opening for him?”
There are so many more, but they won’t make it past the censors. Let’s just say I’ll miss this bit of truthful, funny information in my life.
And what, you ask, did Comedy Central choose to replace it on Monday night? Blue Collar TV.
Come back soon, Quinn. We’ll be waiting.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481 or by e-mail: