October 03, 2003 10:48 AM

Former Saturday Night Live star Colin Quinn is long gone from the Weekend Update news desk, but he’s still tackling the tough issues with his Comedy Central talk show Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. The program, recently renewed for a second season, features Quinn presiding over a rotating roster of trash-talking comedians.

Quinn, 44, recently did some trash-talking of his own for PEOPLE, riffing on the California recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the summer’s mass blackout and, of course, the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez phenomenon.

Who would get your vote in the California recall election?
I’d like to think I’d vote a certain way, but once you’re in there and you see Gary Coleman on the ballot list, it’d be hard not to pull that lever.

It would be very tempting for people like me to just say, “You know what, the world, I hope it just blows up,” and then just pull Gary Coleman’s name. It’s too funny that his name would be on the list. Then if he became governor, we could really laugh.

So, is Gary Coleman the funniest candidate?

Because he’s short.

What do you think of the California recall election overall?
Well, it’s so hard for me to care. On one hand, you want to keep the government in control in a certain way (and not have the recall). But on the other hand, if I was one of those people who lost my job over the past couple years, I’d probably want to recall (current Gov. Gray Davis), too.

What do you think of all these candidates?
I just said it on the show – democracy doesn’t work, let’s give up. None of the alternatives work either, except anarchy or monarchy. I think a nice monarchy might be just what we need.

And who should be king?
Well, I’m not going to start throwing my crown into the ring on this one. But I think it would be a natural progression – Reagan, Schwarzenegger, then me.

Seriously, would you run if you could?
Not right now – there’s too much of a cluster. Plus, I don’t need to be in those positions. I believe I could do it, just like every other lunatic in the world. But at the same time I don’t know if I’d want them digging into my sordid past.

If you did run, what would be your platform?
Basically, I believe that in the specific is the universal. If you take individual a–holes in specific situations – and there’s always one messed up, sick, sadist-like person in every office, house, family, movie theater – then get them together and put them in what I call my “re-education camps,” then, and only then, you can start talking about fixing the world.

How do you think Arnold’s going to do?
I think he’ll probably win. Look, Jesse “The Body” (Ventura) won. People admire people with big muscles – or they’re afraid of them.

What do you think of Arnold as a candidate?
I like the fact that he doesn’t seem like he’s a Republican or a Democrat. The thing that nauseates me, and a lot of people I know, is when Republicans and Democrats are just down the line on every issue. I like the people that sort of go between. Like (Rudy) Giuliani used to have some Democratic, some Republican stances on issues. Schwarzenegger seems like that. Colin Powell is like that. I like people who aren’t like, “Well, I’m a Democrat so I believe in this, this and this.”

What did you think of the blackout?
I thought the blackout was beautiful. New Yorkers really pulled together. I saw two strangers and one was helping the other guy loot.

Were you disappointed New Yorkers were as nice and calm as they were?
No, I was happy. I remember the ’77 blackout. I was brought up in Brooklyn and I saw what happened then – they were pulling cars up to buildings, hooking the grates up to the back of the car and pulling them off. This happened right in my neighborhood just a couple of blocks down from me, so I was glad this one was semi-peaceful.

What did you miss most with the lights being off?
I missed TV like everybody else. TV is our best friend.

Finally, what do you think about relationships like Ben and Jen and Ashton & Demi? Do you think they’re for real, or just Hollywood marketing creations?
The reason I think they’re for real is because I think they’re all big enough on their own. It’s not like Ben and Jen were not giant stars before they got together. So unless they wanted every penny in the world, it seems sincere to me because they have nothing to gain.

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