Jonathan Winters’ Final Approach Is Not a Steady One
Final Approach, a new CD featuring comic genius Jonathan Winters, brags “TOTALLY IMPROVISED,” and Winters dedicates “this CD to people that have an unusual sense of humor.” Winters has long been considered one of the funniest men in show business. Robin Williams names him his greatest influence, and many other performers have credited him with influencing their careers, including George Carlin, Bill Cosby, and Richard Lewis.
Older readers may remember Winters’ guest appearances with Jack Paar, on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and on Hollywood Squares, as well as the many movies in which he appeared. Younger readers will ask “Who’s Robin Williams?”
Because Winters’ brand of comedy was a bit strange and he invented so many interesting characters, he built a career on being a very funny person. His visits to late night talk shows were always popularly anticipated and terribly entertaining. Upon learning the octogenarian comedian would be releasing a new album on April 5, many felt that old anticipation kicking in.
The new album comprises 12 tracks, each an interview (by Bob Shaw) of Winters as one of the characters that inhabit his head (100-year-old man, “Swedish Bowler,” “Leading Terrorists,” 700-pound man, animal trainer, Maude Frickett). Much of the material is perplexing, although not particularly humorous (which, in itself, is sad). There are laughs to be had, but they are few.
Listeners may be puzzled by the attempt at deriving humor from an elderly woman who has been raped many times, finding most attacks (with one exception) to be rather annoying. I hope political correctness is not creeping up on me because this seemed tasteless and insensitive at best. His “Leading Terrorists” bit is more ironic, but not in a funny way. It leaves listeners wondering, “What happened to Jonathan Winters?” Many of the “interviews” seem to just grind to an end, never succeeding in being memorable. Maybe I'm just losing my "unusual sense of humor."Continued on the next page