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5 3
Sound Effects
future kids
The Man of
Ten Thousand
sound effects
By Pavlina Osta
ow many voices can you
make? If you're Michael
Winslow, you can make over
10,000! In fact, Michael is billed as the
"man of ten thousand sound effects"
because he's able to make amazing
sounds by using only his voice.
You know him best as the character
Sgt. Larvelle "Motor Mouth" Jones in
the movie series "Police Academy,"
but he's also a famous stand-up
comedian. That's actually how he
got started back in the 1980s. I
interviewed Mr. Winslow before one
of his stand-up shows that he's taking
on tour at Bonkerz Night Club in
Daytona Beach, Florida.
How did you get into making
all of your sound effects? How do you do
It's usually the environment--
what I hear. And I always loved sound;
the environment affects me, so everything
around me is a part of the dialogue, really!
How long does it take you to
do sound effects? And was there ever one
that you really couldn't get?
Each sound is a sound of
material value. I have to have a need for it
before I try to go out and really do it. You
have to have a place to put it. It's like a
soundtrack for a movie.
(Since Michael did about twenty sounds
for the first two minutes of our interview,
I'm translating his answer as, "I can do
whatever sound you want me to do--
I have the Wizard Ops game
( How did you get
into doing video games?
This was great! It's a
company that's an Orlando-based
company called Phyken Media. They
wanted to have a game that sounds like
no one else's game. So they asked me,
"Why don't you do the whole thing?" So I
did every footstep, every explosion, every
fireball, every laser blast, every helicopter,
every explosion, everything! So it's
hundreds upon hundreds of sounds.
How long did it take to do all
of that?
That took a few weeks! And
that's five hundred to six hundred noises
and sounds.
I love the game. It's a lot of
And they're working on level
two right now, so it should give you an idea
of sound and what a voice can do.
For the "Police Academy"
series ... there have been one to seven; is
there going to be an eight?
They are working on it.
They're having a new team of writers that's
coming onboard, and I would give them
about eight months ... and it is financed, so
here we go! I've been talking to Mahoney
(Steve Guttenberg) about that. He does a
lot of stuff on Broadway now, and we were
talking about it.
When you were younger, did
you also do sound effects, and did you get
into trouble for making sounds? Because
my teachers can't stand clicking pens or
anything like that.
If they couldn't stand clicking
pens then they would have a big problem
with me! You'd get an "F" for the day, right?
How about a squirrel on the teacher's
(Michael gets a mischievous look and I'm
wondering if he played that trick with a
teacher. He definitely would have added
some excitement to my classes!
So he warns me not to do squirrel
sounds in the classroom. And in case I
was thinking about making food talk in a
Chinese restaurant, I should refrain from
doing that, too.)
Are there any new sounds that
you've just recently done?
In Scotland, I learned about
bagpipes, and I learned never to ask what's
underneath a kilt! In New Zealand, I learned
to do the bowling ball. And if you go onto you'll see the
history of the typewriter, where I did every
typewriter from 1890 to 1980.
There's clearly not a sound
out there that Michael
can't do, so I've got to
rename him, from the
"man of ten thousand
sound effects" to the "man
of infinite sound effects."