Baltimore raised comedian Mike E. Winfield isn’t smiling all the time. He has “big ass teeth” and when he closes his mouth
“it’s uncomfortable.” He was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, appeared on Comics without borders, and won this open mic competition at Tommy T’s I was at. I knew he wasn’t an open mic’r. Most recently, Mike made his first late night TV appearance on Letterman. Mike took some time from answering q’s about his “mysterious” afro to answer some q’s for AComedy.
Q. You were recently featured on Comics without Borders w/ Russell Peters on Showtime. Give us some insight on how that opportunity came about and some of the highlights/lowlights.
Yes, I was featured on Comics Without Borders. That experience was one my favorite for television. There was really no pressure to perform because the show was produced by people that I know really well. Russell is family, and I just had to go on stage and knock it out really quick. I try to treat every show that I perform on the same, give it the same importance, but some shows are like Cadillac seats, just a little more comfortable than usual.
My manager is Clayton Peters, who is Russell’s brother. The combination of that and working really hard is why I was selected to be on CWB. One lowlight about the show is that I think I should have worn a hat because my afro was too perfect.
Q. How often do you come up with new material? What is your process?
I write new material daily. I also Try new material daily on Any show. That ability to be that free and open has allowed me to grow more than anything. At this point, it doesn’t feel like a risk when I’m doing new material in a competition, so to speak, it feels like what I am supposed to be doing.
My process for writing is to watch old videos and generate ideas. I also just force myself to sit down and write. I have an intense household with wife and kids and stuff, so writing at home is not always an option. Sometimes, I just have to go somewhere, and I get most of work done in the car. I love my family, but they don’t even understand the amount of work that goes into trying to achieve greatness. Normally when I get back home, and my wife is pissed off, I have a new joke to try that evening.
Q. If you had to choose one of your shows to be put in a time capsule for future generations to see which one would it be and why?
I was in the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition Finals this year, and performed what I thought was a great set from start to finish, but I was selected as third place out of six. When they called my name in the third slot, the crowd booed, and then they kept on booing. 2000 plus people. Oakland, California had my back. That set was so structured and no one knew it. It was clean, very original, had strong ending, and the audience obviously appreciated it. Photographers wanted me to smile in the pictures. That wasn’t easy to do with a third place trophy.
Q. What’s your take on the comedy scene in Sacramento? How could it improve? Who are some of the up and coming comics from that area?
Sacramento’s comedy scene is growing tremendously. There is a lot of up and coming talent. There is always some new room where you can go and work on your stuff. I think its tough for Sacramento, as a comedy scene, being so close to San Francisco. SF is a comedy mecca, has history. Its kinda like being Tito Jackson. You can definitely be successful in Sacramento because of all the resources that are available. Sacramento needs some respect, but we have to get out of Sacramento and go and get it. I heard that there is some sort of hex on Sacramento comics that I managed to break through. I don’t believe in that, so I slipped right by. I believe it started over 20 years ago by a guy named Rick Pulido; a guy that I know well. Hopefully my success can lift this hex off of the comedy scene. I proudly place weight on my shoulders.
There are some funny guys that I like to watch in the Sacramento scene like Tapan Trivedi, Chazz Hawkins, Ray Molina, BT Kingsley.
Q. What’s your most memorable exchange with an audience member? Why does that one stand out?
I was playing at the Baltimore Comedy Factory. I grew up in Baltimore and my mom lives there and will come to all seven of my shows. Well, shes only seen me a few times performing live, and I don’t think she really ever believed that I was funny. So I look up into the crowd and I see her, and she’s crying. These are not tears of laughter, these are tears of joy, and love, and motherly stuff. On site of her crying, I begin to get emotional, during a joke that I’m telling about being the victim of domestic violence. I watched the video and I appeared really passionate about the situation at the time.
Q. A Tribe called Quest gave us inudstry rule 4080: Industry people are shady. What Industry rule would you like to contribute?
Polish your product, so that when the industry sees it, its really shiny.
Q. Here’s where you can shamelessly plug any projects.
Stay in tune for all projects on Mikewinfield.com. Watch and share my youtube clips. If you haven’t seen it live, you haven’t seen it.