Don’t Forget the ‘E’
With credits including, Last Comic Standing, Jay Leno, BET’s Comic View, Showtime’s Comedy Without Borders, and performing at our own Aspen RooftopComedy Festival in May, Sacramento-based Mike E. Winfield is a favorite here at Rooftop (Not ‘the’ favorite mind you, you’re all our favorites). And a really nice guy I would like to add.
Paolo: You performed at our Aspen Comedy Festival back in May. What was that like for you?
Mike: Aspen is a beautiful town. I have been to many festivals, and I like the way that Rooftop seemed to showcase many different styles and talents. I attended so many of the shows. I also learned to play poker at this festival which has changed my life. At the poker tables nowadays, I have attitude. I don’t win, but I have attitude.
From a performers aspect, May was a very experimental time for me in comedy. I was like, “Hm, let’s try this tonight.” In the process of growth, you go through stages where you want to be at another level, and I find as I continue pursuing that you can’t ever force it. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of that festival. It helped me realize that the world is bigger than just the East and the West Coast.
Paolo: How did you get into comedy?
Mike: I had a college speech class where everytime I hit the front of the room, the class was entertained. They loved me. Everyone smiled and anticipated the days when I was giving speeches. I was failing the speeches because the content sucked, but the delivery was giving me marks of “A’s” I was so confident that I dropped out of college and hit an open mic in downtown Sacramento. I thought I was so funny that I didn’t even have to write material. I told my homie, “I’ll just make it up when I get up there.” I saw guys studying there notes before they went on. I was like, “Losers. I guess they don’t have the magic like Winfield McNamera.” (That first night I didn’t want anyone to know my real name) We’ll it didn’t go as planned and I bombed horribly, so I dropped back in college the next day and didn’t do comedy again until three years later. That first night it was so quiet, I could hear the crickets laughing. When I eventually returned, I wrote down some ideas. It was mediocre, but good enough for me to come back a week later.
Paolo: Who are your comedic influences?
Mike: There was not a comedian who influenced me to get into comedy, but there were some standups that I loved. Eddie Murphy in RAW was the first standup comedy that I had ever saw. My cousin had it in his basement and we watched it and laughed at a bunch of stuff that we didn’t understand. I was only in junior high. The first standup that I studied was Martin Lawrence in YOU SO CRAZY. I was already a fan from his sitcom MARTIN, but the standup was hilarious. “Hey my man, give her two pieces of cheese” as he explained some of the things you do in the beginning of the relationship when you like a girl. Then there was Chris Rock who I saw in BRING THA PAIN, I was like, “Wow, I like what this guy is saying.” I sat there and compared Lawrence and Rock in awe. It was weird, because I thought one was funnier than the other, in terms or response, but there was one that I liked more. That taught me that likeability can aid in success.
Paolo: What was the absolute worst show you ever had?
Mike: Well, you know, bad shows are like big girls, we’ve all had a few, but you never hear the stories about them. Next question… No, I’ll tell you. I guess. I was doing a private gig in Ontario, Canada, and my impression was that they didn’t want material, they wanted me to freestyle. I thought that one was supposed to do that in private gigs. Well, freestyling that night was not my strong suit. I was 20 minutes into my hour and a half, thinking, “This is terrible, and I don’t know if I’m going to continue being a comedian.” They were paying me so much money, and it went so bad that I didn’t think I was going to get paid. When my manager handed me this massive amount of cash, I couldn’t help thinking, “I love comedy.” Sometimes, I feel like I owe Ontario, SOMETHING, but then it kicks in that there will be many other bad shows. In fifth grade, my cousin had a clown at her party. That clown didn’t crush. That clown didn’t rip the place apart. He or she or whatever it was bombed, but It still got paid. You know what, that Ontario show doesn’t even count, because it wasn’t a real show, it was a private gig. Forget a private gig. I’m sure someone else will go up there and tank worst, and then it will be their worst show, because its off my record. I don’t have a worst show anymore.
Paolo: Where do you think you would be without your big ass teeth?
Mike: Probably doing interviews for Rooftop. I’m joking. I can’t really say because even if I lose all the ones that I have in mouth now, I always keep an extra set in my closet that are bigger.
Paolo: Have you found your go to Chinese homey yet?
Mike: No. Every Chinese guy thinks that I am joking. Even a Chinese homegirl would be cool at this point. One day, I’ll own part of China, and things will change. I have a feeling.
Paolo: And lastly, do you have any last words to your adoring fans who would be reading this now?
Mike: Yes, for the three of you reading this right now, I’d like to say THANKYOU. I need you. I’m really wondering whats gonna happen down the line. I just walk forward with blinders on and things keep happening. If you like a clip, send it to someone that you like or hate even, so that we can work together and get more joy crackin in this lifetime. Don’t forget the “E.”