The sounds of B-52s taking off at Fairchild Air Force Base were outside and inside the Winslow home during the ’60s. Michael Winslow, the future comic and man of 10,000 sounds and voices, would imitate the sounds of the planes and almost everything else within earshot at the home of his father Robert Winslow, who was a lieutenant colonel at Fairchild.
The cacophony that emanated from Winslow irritated his parents.
“They thought what I did was a horrible annoyance,” Winslow said. “My dad gave me toys from Radio Shack, which were in a thousand pieces, just so I would be occupied. It didn’t stop me from doing my thing. My fascination with making sounds and seeing people’s reactions started in Spokane.”
Winslow, 63, was born in Spokane, where he lived until he was 7 years old. His life was typical of military brats. Winslow moved to Montana to Ohio to Colorado. The lone constant was his endless array of sounds and unpopularity.
“I remember, when I was in Denver, the jocks would beat us up,” Winslow said. “They would jump on you and fart on your face.”
However, Winslow’s defense mechanism was his voice.
“When I was in class, the jocks would say, ‘Hey, Winslow, you better make noises in class or you’re dead.’ So I would make that annoying chalk against the blackboard noise.”
Teachers eventually figured out the extraneous noise in class emanated from Winslow and chided him for not being serious. In the end, it served him well, as Winslow has enjoyed an enviable career creating sounds, comedy and music.
“It’s been a fascinating journey,” Winslow said.
Winslow, who performs through Saturday at the Spokane Comedy Club, made his debut on the late, lamented and always wacky “Gong Show,” impersonating the lovable mixed-breed dog Benji, who starred in a number of films during the ’70s.
“I can communicate with dogs,” Winslow said. “I show people how I do it onstage.”
Winslow became a stand-up comic and hit commercial paydirt landing the role of Larvell Jones in the “Police Academy” film series. Winslow was part of all seven “Police Academy” films, which featured misfit characters who became policemen.
“ ‘The Police Academy’ films still stand up,” Winslow said. “People still enjoy them. It was a solid decade of those movies.”
The initial “Police Academy” hit screens in 1984 and the last of that relatively popular but critically drubbed series was released in 1994.
“But can you believe there’s talk that ‘Police Academy 8’ will happen? But we’ll see,” Winslow said.
Winslow isn’t waiting around for another film with Steve Guttenberg and Bobcat Goldthwait. The soft-spoken but unpredictable entertainer keeps tweaking his show, which includes stand-up, sound effects and music.
“I call what I do throwing the kitchen sink at the audience,” Winslow said. “I’m doing George Thorogood since I love imitating his guitar work. I do a Fleetwood Mac and Cheese.”
Expect a hip-hop version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” as well as some Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
“My Floyd is actually their cousin, Purple Fred,” Winslow cracked. “I do Prince making snacks.”
A reverent version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” will be delivered by the classic rock lover, who recently worked on a song, “Makes Me Happy,” with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Winslow adds his sound effects by providing the beat box while Anderson sings along to a ukulele and a horn section fills out the song.
“I love the Tower of Power horns,” Winslow said. “I love that sound. It takes me back to my childhood in Spokane when my dad would be playing Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong in our house. I love jazz.”
It wasn’t easy for Winslow growing up in Spokane.
“I didn’t have a lot of friends, and there was no diversity,” Winslow said. “I got called a few not-so-nice things. It was bad back then.
“We had a neighbor who actually named their dog the ‘N-word.’ I felt bad for the dog, and I would get into a barking circle with him at night and he would respond. I always wondered if that dog got lost what would that neighbor say to the pound when they asked for his lost dog’s name?”
Occasionally a friend from childhood stops by at a show to say hello to Winslow.
“Every now and again that happens and it’s always good to see someone from back in the day,” Winslow said. “I’m all for old friends coming out to see me or well, anyone. If you come out I guarantee that you’ll see a show like you’ve never seen before.”
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