Performed by: Michael Winslow
Reviewer: Jenni Dixon
Michael Winslow is probably best known for his rôle as Larvell Jones in the Police Academy films, a cheeky cadet whose human beat box skills and repertoire of hundreds of sound effects helped get him in and out of trouble. Nearly 30 years on and Michael has honed his vocal skills to a point where he can hold an audience captive for an hour.
Mr Winslow took to the stage after a warm-up comedian and a short interval. Unfortunately the warm up act couldn’t really hold his own and despite a few sympathetic laughs he struggled to stay in control, lacked confidence and seemed a little out of his depth. There was a distinct undertone of “get off we want the main act to start” in the applause for him.
Michael is very much at ease with his audience, he really makes you feel like he’s talking to you individually with his amiable presence. He is a true actor; incorporating not just his sound effects but physical movement, eye contact and facial expressions throughout. He orates short stories about his life experiences and at every opportunity shows off his amazing skill. Michael has obviously worked very hard to appeal to his British audiences and makes sure that nothing is Americanised, discussing Tesco’s, Spar and he even throws in a Ryan Air joke during his “Air Hostesses” skit at the top of the show. The stand out parts of the performance were his beat boxing, guitar riffs as he puts his own spin on how Led Zeppelin churned out their hits and Jimmi Hendrix at Woodstock, and a “close your eyes and you’d think he was actually in the room” impersonation of Louis Armstrong. Michael uses the large projector screen behind him to play a couple of short film clips for which he simultaneously produces voice-overs and sound effects.
It’s all very well having seen something like this on the television, perhaps more than once, but to actually hear him in the flesh is something else. He has a truly remarkable talent, the sort that makes you do a double take and ask “Really?! How DOES he do it?!” This is a fun evening of escapism with some very funny current jokes, a loveable character and a really impressive skill to sit in awe of.
Touring until August 2012, then a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, followed by another tour from November 2012.