I recently worked with another comedian and we started talking about the best and worst people with whom we’ve had to work.
My list is made up of legitimately terrible people. I don’t care if they’re funny or not. They’re people who off stage are monsters. One lied about having cancer to milk her friends and the community out of money. Another bullied the staff at a club and then corner the 16 year old girl working the box office into a corner threatening to show her “an old man’s dick”. Two really disgusting people.
My coworker had Michael Winslow from Police Academy on his list. I was surprised. I met Michael twice and worked with him once. Both times, I found him to be exceptionally cool. Granted, my coworker’s anecdotal evidence was kind of scummy. He said he was working at a bar with Winslow. Winslow tipped the bartender a couple of bucks in a tip jar and when the bartender turned away, Winslow took one of the dollars back.
In all fairness, there have been times when I felt I over tipped and after getting bad service wish I could have taken some of the money back. Still, even if this is a case of being stingy, it didn’t affect my coworker and it’s not the worst thing in the world.
I first met Michael Winslow years and years ago at a club in Detroit. My friend was hosting the show and I really wanted to see it. I grew up on the Police Academy movies. Some of the first boobs I saw were in the Police Academy movies. It was a significant part of my childhood.
I guess I should back up. If you’re not up to speed, Michael Winslow is the sound effects guy from the Police Academy movies and Spaceballs.
I had a joke in my act at the time (it’s still there from time to time) that called for me to make a Wookiee noise on stage. I couldn’t do it. After the show I told Winslow of my problem. He told me to roll my tongue at the back of my mouth and make sort of a yawning noise. I can’t do that with my tongue. I have permanently swollen tonsils that were never removed and I’d throw up or at the very least gag. Me gagging would be very unpleasant to anyone who would have to watch. Trust me, I catch myself in the mirror sometimes when brushing my teeth. It’s probably a good thing I was born straight. I’d make a terrible gay boyfriend. I’d just play with the tip. I’d be the girlfriend of boyfriends!
So I couldn’t do the Wookiee noise the “right” way, so Winslow offered to have lunch with me the next day and work on it. We went out to lunch, he taught me an effective alternate way to make the noise and my memory is that he picked up the tab.
Years later my friend Jeff and I were doing a run of one nighter comedy shows down in Florida. We had a week night booked at some little dive bar that did comedy. The booker had to cancel because Winslow was going to be in town and wanted that date. That happens in comedy. You get bumped for bigger names. When Winslow found out it was me who got bumped, he told the booker that I was welcome to host the show for the same pay that I was supposed to get for headlining it. I kind of feel like that money came out of Winslow’s pay.
That day, Jeff and I got to Florida, which is where Winslow lives now, and had a pizza party with his family before the show. I’ve found Michael Winslow to be generous, the exact opposite snapshot that my coworker last weekend had.
That’s the thing about meeting people whether they be famous or not. You never know who they are based on one interaction. Maybe they were having a bad day. Who knows? I drive for Lyft in Los Angeles to supplement my income. It’s a ride sharing application that basically turns you and your car into a cabbie and taxi. Most of my passenger reviews rave about how personable I am and that they really enjoyed my sense of humor. One passenger flagged me for not being friendly enough. Maybe I wasn’t that ride. I don’t remember. It’s possible. I’ve been under a lot of stress and driving in Los Angeles doesn’t help!
I guess my point is that 1) sometimes you can’t get to know who a person is in a snapshot interaction, 2) I’m still angry about my one negative review and 3) I know Michael Winslow.