BWW Interviews: Mike E. Winfield - Host of Fuse's OFF BEAT
Fuse's new, original half-hour comedy, OFF BEAT will feature some of today's funniest music-themed viral videos. The series premieres on Friday, September 14th at 10:00pm EST. Hosted by comedian Mike E. Winfield and featuring San Diego comic Mal Hall as his sidekick, Off Beat is a 30-minute weekly mash-up of the funniest and most outrageous music-themed Internet videos and viewer-created clips.
Since his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman and, most recently, his recurring role on NBC's The Office, host Mike E. Winfield has been on the fast track to stardom within the comedy world. A Baltimore native currently based out of Sacramento, Winfield has won various comedy competitions throughout his budding career and can currently be seen headlining Comedy Clubs and theaters across the country. The comedian chatted with BWW about the upcoming new series on Fuse and why he believes there has never been anything "more fit for me than this."
Can you tell us about the new series OFF BEAT? It sounds so interesting!
Well it is interesting! It's a music-themed comedy clip show that I host. So what happens is, we play clips that have been put on-line, from Youtube and some have been submitted, and they are just funny clips. And then you cut to me and I give some jokes about the clips. And my jokes, a lot of times, are what a lot of people are thinking. We have such a great staff of people that some of the jokes went way like, around the tree, you know what I mean, the tree! (laughing)
So you and the writers actually watch the clips together and all come up with jokes.
Yes, we're just watching and reacting to what we see.
Can we expect to see any serious entries?
That's the thing. There's some people with followers up to 8 million views - like there's a guy who had 8 plus million, another with 6 plus views, and for them to have that many views, I mean I understand, sometimes it's just crazy stuff, but there are some talented people and it can be how a person views talent. There are some people who are really captivating characters.
How did you become involved with the show?
It was an audition process. And the show just really interested me, the whole premise of it, coming from a stand-up background, it just kind of fit what I was already doing. So when I went in to audition, I had the material, I brought additional material that I wanted to add on to the audition and I had a lot of fun, which is very rare for an audition. Normally auditions suck, (laughing ) and not only do you hate yourself when you leave, you hate everybody in the room, who you drive past on the freeway when you're leaving. This was enjoyable, this was like "you know, whatever happens I'm just glad I enjoyed myself in that process."
And maybe deep down you knew it was a natural fit.
You know what, I did! I did! It really felt like I was supposed to be doing that. It wasn't a stretch, there was nothing. I've never auditioned for anything that was more fit for me than this.
You mentioned your stand-up background. How does hosting this show differ from stand-up?
You know what, as far as differences... we have a teleprompter, I don't really use a teleprompter when I'm on stage. And it's during the day, I don't do much daytime stand-up! (laughing) My point being there is really very subtle or few differences.
So there are many more similarities.
Yes there are!
When did you first know you wanted to become a comedian?
The first realization is when I was a college sophomore, I'm talking around 2002, and I had a speech class. During the class I remember getting great grades on the delivery, but the marks were a little lower on content. But they were laughing at my speech and it wasn't even designed to be funny, so someone suggested, 'have you ever considered stand up?' And I really hadn't. But I went to an open mike and I thought it looked like so much fun, and maybe my first experience wasn't very good at all, but it was fun!
Who were were some of your earliest comedic influences?
Eddie Murphy - because in my cousin's basement, he had this VHS tape special of 'Eddie Murphy Raw.' I might have been in sixth grade, but it was ground-breaking. And more so coming from a kid angle where you see some guy saying bad words in front of this big crowd of people and they're loving him. He was doing impressions of people that I knew at the time, like Mr. T. I was like 'this is crazy. How talented this guy is!' - all that in kids words, so it was more like, 'Wow, he's good!' -whatever you say as a kid!
You've made a few guest appearances on [NBC's] The Office.
It's funny, I still feel like I may pop up in the warehouse! I played a warehouse worker. And my character, he was a great character, he was a new employee who wasn't that thrilled about having a new job.
It's hard to believe this will be the last season of that show.
For any show to make it to nine seasons, that alone says how big of a following it has and how it has touched a lot of people.
Well I certainly hope that your new venture reaches that milestone as well. Any show that elicits laughter from people these days is a welcome thing.
Oh definitely. We could all use a laugh!
OFF BEAT premieres Friday, September 14 at 10:00 pm/ET and will run through November. To get a sneak peek at the hilarious new series, click here!
Photo credit: John Durgee for Fuse