Jonathan Winters had been my hero since childhood, yet there I was, thirty days sober and on mike with the master, flying wingtip to wingtip and ad-libbing faster than I could think.  Why our recording sessions never morphed into the long-lost Winters album is not because of his wildly unpredictable trains of thought but because of my inability to consistently act as his straight man. Though I blew many a take, Winters was forgiving, perhaps because we both ended up laughing most of the time. It was an unforgettable experience and tons of fun, as this piece will attest.

Maude Frickert – Women In Combat  (1:58)

Jonathan also wrote the preface for my book:

When I first met Dean Opperman, he was driving a rusted out Chevy Impala that looked like it had been through D-Day.

I’ll never forget following him to lunch that day. Suddenly, a strip of molding came loose from the side of the car and was whipping in the wind like a giant fondue fork, occasionally scraping the asphalt and setting off showers of sparks. Some might have thought it was a fire hazard but the car already looked like it had exploded in an old episode of Mannix.

Dean has captured moments like this in his hilarious new book, Going Sane. His struggles with addictions remind me of the things I went through when I got sober, which was a long time ago. I go back so far I have pictures of me and Bill W. sharing a bottle of scotch.

Dean brings it all back so clearly, and proves something I’ve been saying for ages: That the fun really starts when you put down the sauce, not the other way around.

jonathan winters letter (F2)