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“What do we got?”
“Female, Caucasian, late twenties. Looks to be possibly deceased.”
Thus begins episode one of Cop Show, a new Web series created by and starring veteran stand-up comedian Colin Quinn. A mockumentary-style take on New York City–set procedurals and the grizzled cops who populate them, Cop Show finds humor not only in the groan-worthy clichés of its titular genre, but also in the overlap between its lead character and the man who plays him.
Quinn, who was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1995 to 2000, takes aim at his own (perceived) failures through his character, an actor desperately trying to make his passion project come together.
The weekly series, which premiered February 18 on Lexus’s L/Studio online network, consists of quick, five-to-six-minute episodes and features a guest star from the trenches of the comedy industry. The guest stars play themselves — so far they’ve included Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, and Jim Gaffigan — each one barely suppressing irritation at being asked to appear in such a low-budget operation.
“I knew well enough to know how I feel when people ask me to do their stupid Web show, so I figured that’s how they would probably feel,” Quinn tells the Voice. “If I show up on somebody’s show from now on, I’m gonna be on my best behavior.”
Of course, in terms of production, Cop Show isn’t exactly Game of Thrones. After the first episode was shot a year ago and was picked up by L/Studio, the rest of the season took just a week to shoot. “Anybody can see there’s no money,” Quinn says. “We’re paying Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer a hundred bucks.” But if the show were to appear on a major network or cable channel, it would inevitably lose its charm — and its edge. Quinn admits he’s conflicted about this; more money means a more legitimate shoot, and yet the slightly shoddy nature of the production is what makes the show so funny.
“If I’m on HBO or FX or whatever, everyone would be like, ‘Yeah, you’re playing that, but you’re not living it.’ Right now, I’m living it. Any bitterness that comes through is good.”
The mockumentary approach gives Quinn plenty of room to tear himself down. In one episode, Quinn’s “manager,” played by Peter Grosz, tells the camera, “Something like this is gonna be huge for him — it’s gonna take him to the next level.” When Schumer appears in the second episode, the interviewer behind the camera asks, “Amy seems very busy these days, how did you get her to come in to do the episode?” (The episode, by the way, centers on a “female hipster drug gang.” Amy is its leader.)
Quinn took his inspiration from other mockumentary series, such as HBO’s The Comeback — starring Lisa Kudrow as a former sitcom star trying to reboot her career — and the original British version of The Office, whose leading man, Ricky Gervais’s David Brent, shares some DNA with the hapless actor Quinn plays on Cop Show. “We don’t just do shows,” Quinn’s character declares, “we confront issues.”
Below, you can watch the latest episode (the fifth in the series), which dropped today.