Michael Winslow, more commonly known as the cadet from Police Academy who makes funny sounds is back in Dublin to play Whelan’s on July 22, and the Vodafone Comedy Festival this July 27. The man of 10,000 sounds is back with a new show, comprised of both vocal gymnastics and impersonation.
You spent most of your childhood living right next to an air force base. What was that like? What did you do for fun?
Well, there was a lot of noise and sound because I lived next to an active runway, so we would hear all kinds of stuff that we never heard before (and probably stuff that is classified, but who knows?). I’ve heard it all. It’s a big part of me. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up, I don’t know if anybody can relate to that but I had to make up my friends myself, that’s where the sounds came from.
When did you realise you could make these sounds? Did it come naturally to you or was it a case of practicing all day?
Let’s call it a work in progress. It is always a work in progress because every time I go some place, there are always new sounds. Now people are walking up to me, it could be a fireman or a policeman, and they are making their own sounds, it’s strange, but it’s great!
You’ve impersonated all the classics- Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, Jimmy Page and Led Zepplin. If you could pick somebody to impersonate, who is at the peak of their career now, who would it be and why?
That is a good question, I honestly don’t know! What I would like to do though, and it would be really great, is to get Bono and The Edge in a room and have a huge set of Marshall speakers and do my Hendrix impersonation. I would love to see the look on their face.
In Police Academy, your character Larvelle Jones likes to play pranks on random people, did you ever do this or were the sound effects strictly for performance only?
I don’t do that anymore. It used to be a lot of fun, but I’ve seen the error of my ways. It really can back fire on you! Now that the kids are paying attention I have to be careful about what sounds I do. And yes, I have learned my lesson- no more talking food in the Chinese restaurant. I got in so much trouble for that. The cook got pretty angry, did you know that cooking utensils can be used as martial arts weapons?
What was it like working with Seth McFarlene?
Seth is great. I’m hoping in the future he will want to do more stuff. Robot Chicken was good too, but Family Guy is great. I’m keeping my options open. I’m hoping they continue to pick at me and call me names so I can do more.
Would you ever consider doing animation voices full-time?
Sure, I would. In terms of animation you are creating an entire environment, and the sound is really important. It can make a good film into a great film.
Recently you performed on Broadway with the Voca People. How was that?
It was surreal. The Voca People have such a new approach to things. The whole beatbox thing started in the early 80s and it became an art form. It lives on. Now I find myself working with all kinds of formats. It was my third time on Broadway. Its scary, you have to be able to hit the back wall with the sound.
What future collaborations we can look forward to?
I’m working on a children’s TV programme co-produced by Bill Cosby. Also we have the Wizard Ops app. Every sound in the app is human produced, there are 6 layers of sound. It took about 500 sounds to make it. I’m still learning my way around it!
What we can we expect from your show in Dublin, a bit of voice gymnastics and impersonation?
Yes, I think a mix is a good idea. Do you guys have like home improvement stores like Homebase?
Yes we do…
Well I went to the metal department and bought a kitchen sink because I intend to throw everything in there. Hopefully we’ll get the right temperature!
Michael Winslow plays Whelan’s on the 22nd of July, followed by a Vodafone Comedy Festival appearance on Saturday the 28th.