Gig Review: Michael Winslow

LAST Saturday evening (9 June) I learned a valuable life lesson. Never listen to your inner child, and never meet your childhood heroes. While searching online for something to do for the evening, I discovered that American comedian, Michael Winslow was performing in Belfast, at the Grand Opera House.

Described as the man of 10,000 voices, Winslow had been a favourite of mine when I was growing up. To my detriment, I admit I was a fan of the Police Academy movies. Winslow’s character, Cadet Larvell, ‘motor-mouth’ Jones was my  favourite. I still remember in the playground at my school in Omagh, acting out scenes from the movies, trying to imitate the various sounds he did in the series.

Fast Forward to the present, the eternal man-child within me, quickly jumped at the chance to see my childhood hero and promptly booked the tickets online. Costing around £35 for two tickets, my unsuspecting girlfriend was unaware of the audible delights she would be enjoying later that evening.

Arriving onstage shortly after 9pm, despite his outlandish persona, within twenty minutes of his routine I found myself getting bored and fidgety in my seat. beginning to watch my clock more than the comedian and those feelings seemed to be shared by my girlfriend as well.

There is no denying Winslow’s talents, unquestionably he’s audibly talented. In 2011, he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival to a sell-out audience, his performance earned positive reviews, which prompted this current UK tour.

But I felt the American’s showmanship was too laid back and his routine lacked a firm structure, quickly becoming repetitive. When you have heard one imitation of a guitar solo, I’m afraid you’ve heard them all.

At times the show needed the volume levels turned down, this might not have been the comedian’s fault, but it hindered my enjoyment of the show. Winslow’s clever redubbing of a scene from Star Wars was left wasted, as it was simply deafening.

Criticism’s aside, credit must be bestowed on the comedian. There were some solid laughs throughout his skit. Stories about how he got his kicks went down well with the Belfast audience. Telling yarns about how he used his talents at restaurants and supermarkets. Even using his skills to pester and annoy stewardesses on board airplanes.

He even referenced parts of Northern Ireland throughout his routine. Light-heartedly mocking people from Lurgan and heckling latecomers to the performance.

Winslow’s act is very simple, a man with a microphone using his rather unique talent. But sadly he just wasn’t up to the standard I had been expecting, especially considering the talent of some of his Irish counterparts. As a child I remember thinking how amazing it would be to be in the same room as my Police Academy hero, now at the age of 29, I cannot think of anything worse.

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