Jonathan Winters died today at age 87. My parents used to play all of his comedy records for us when we were kids. Those records made me laugh so hard I had trouble breathing. Jump forward to 1997. I was a novelist and TV writer by then and I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference… on a panel on writing humor with Jonathan Winters and Fannie Flagg. I was honored…and absolutely terrified. What the hell was a nobody like me doing on the same stage as a legend like Winters? But he was incredibly gracious and hilariously funny…and that night is one of the most treasured memories of my career. Here's a recording of that hour-long panel. Although it's a video, there's only a still photo to look at. The audio track is the panel. The picture here, and in the video, is of my mother Jan Curran and Winters at the conference. Somewhere out there is a picture of me with Winters and Flagg, but I haven't been able to dig it up.
Jonathan Winters at Santa Barbara Writers Conference from lee goldberg on Vimeo.