MICHAEL WINSLOW: COMEDY SOUND SLAPDOWN
Review by Michael Jacobson
Director: Richard Pabis
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Image Entertainment
Length: 59 Minutes
Release Date: February 25, 2003
only had one question while watching Comedy Sound Slapdown:
when did Michael Winslow become such a buffoon?
is, of course, the man who made a name for himself as a human sound effects
machine. His remarkable arsenal of
noises and voices propelled him from the standup stage to worldwide fame in the Police
Academy movies, and back to the comedy circuit, where he's remained a
popular draw for many years.
considered myself a fan of his even before Police Academy hit the
screen…I saw him on a local program once just ripping his sounds left and
right, doing his inimitable Led Zeppelin impression, and even answering the
challenge of providing all the sounds for some silent film clips right there on
the spot. The man was amazing!
followed his standup over the years, I was really looking forward to his Comedy
Sound Slapdown DVD, only to find myself wondering if this was even the same
comic I had liked for so long. Oh,
his sound impressions are unmistakable. But
where were the laughs?
had never considered it before, but now I'm forced to ask if Michael Winslow
was ever funny to begin with. His
whole act consists of making our jaws drop with his sounds, which he does…but
that's not humor. When he makes
sounds, he amazes. When he tells
jokes, he's terrible…his idea of funny consists of a painful string of
making fun of hotel names (“the Hyass, the Motel 7.8, the Budgesmell…”)
which goes ON and ON. THEN he
follows up by making fun of chain stores in the same way (“Wal-Fart,
K-Fart…”). Somebody desperately
needed to pull the plug.
best moment is an impression of the first time you get pulled over by the cops
when you're a teen. It works
mostly because of a radio flipping bit in the middle, where he does impressions
of recognizable popular tunes…again, more amazing than funny, but it's a bit
I don't quibble with.
for the most part, the comedy (or lack thereof) is painful.
Even worse is his sound operator, who tries to put reverb or delay on his
voice during key parts…the two are frequently out of sync with somewhat
finale is also a mixed bag, doing his “Michael Winslow Experience” bit with
a full band. His impressions of
Zeppelin and Hendrix are absolutely impeccable, but his Mick Jagger and Jim
Morrison leave a lot to be desired.
advice to Mr. Winslow: your sounds
are amazing, and make you a truly one-of-a-kind artist. But learn the difference between what's funny and not, and
you'll really have an unstoppable show on your hands.
The sound of applause will be much sweeter to your ears than the sound of
people exiting the theatre.
much to speak of in the video department…this is a simple comedy concert
filmed on video. It has the normal
inherent problems with the medium, including some streaks, some softness, some
grain here and there. Basically, it
looks fine for what it is…by nature, it doesn't require a whole lot more.
audio is problematic, and given Image's reputation, I will place the blame on
how it was recorded rather than how it was translated to DVD.
Early on, the sound is surprisingly quiet, but later on, it picks up,
with a few level drops here and there…somebody fell asleep at the mixing
board. Some background noise is
evident from time to time, too, probably being picked up somehow by Winslow's
mike and preserved for all posterity on disc.
There's no trouble understanding his monologues or his sounds, so
it's still a workable soundtrack…just decidedly sub-standard.