Thursday, August 11, 2022

Comedian Michael Colyar: ‘Ain’t Nobody Having More Fun Than Me’ [EUR Exclusive]

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*Comedian Michael Colyar, AKA the “King of Venice Beach,” returns to Los Angeles for One-Night-Only for the production of “Michael Colyar’s Momma at Barnsdall Theater in Los Angeles, on Saturday, February 24.

Arguably one of the best comics in the business, Colyar is known for his guest starring roles in Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Martin,” ABC’s “Black-ish”, Showtime’s “Barbershop”, and UPN’s “Homeboys in Outer Space.”

“Michael Colyar’s Momma” is not just one man’s journey for greatness but displays the strength to overcome even the toughest battles… including his crack addiction.

EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with the comic legend to dish about his resonating one-man show and he also shared the one piece of advice he would travel back in time to give his younger self.

Check out our Q&A below.

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Talk about the impact that your mother has had on your life and career.

MC: She’s had an amazing impact on every aspect of my life. The title is just to throw you off to make you think that it’s all about Michael Colyar’s momma. Although for me, it is all about Michael Colyar’s momma. It’s called “Michael Colyar’s Momma” so you don’t confuse it with yo momma or nobody else momma. We’re just talking about Michael Colyar’s momma, which really does represent all mothers, and that is, our mother is everything.  Our mothers believe in us before we believe in ourselves. They were our first God we ever knew. They can steer our lives in any direction, and generally, they steer our lives for the direction of the good. But the story is really my story of coming up in Chicago. I was brought up in the projects and then finding what my art is and then turning that art into a livelihood… a career, and then chasing the dream of coming to Hollywood and actually living the dream. ‘Cause you know, I’ve been rich three times but I’ve been broke 17. I’m way more comfortable with broke than I am rich. Me and broke like first cousins. You know I can make hot water cornbread from scratch and cornmeal mush and things like that. So it shows the evolution of my life but my mother is a thread that runs through all of it. My mother and God are the reason that I love the guy I look at in the mirror er’morning.

I got through an addiction. I did crack for 23 years and as of March 1st, I’m 7 years pure sobriety. And through my addiction, I was a functioning addict ‘cause didn’t nobody know. I was out there getting messed up and yet I was doing film, television, stage plays, comedy. ‘Cause I was a functional addict, I knew how to hide it but I couldn’t hide it from myself. So you get to see this journey that brings you from Chicago to Venice Beach, where I really made my name, to my Star Search wins and my films and TV stuff and then back down to the addiction and getting clean from the addiction and going back to it and then getting clean for real. But it’s not about the sobriety. It’s not about my mother. It’s about my life journey and where it is now from where I started, what I went through.

The thing is, my journey is everybody’s journey. That’s why the story is so awesome, it ain’t just me. We are all going through these same things where we’re trying very hard to chase our dreams and then we get our dreams and do something stupid to mess it up and then might do something to get us back on track but then we do something else to throw us back off again. But if we keep God first, we will find that we can accomplish everything. And who is God’s greatest shepherd? My momma! And that’s usually the case for most people. Our mothers are usually the ones who stand with us even when we do the ugliest things.

Do you feel like, as a comedian, you have a social responsibility to talk about these very personal issues?

MC: Absolutely not. I’ve always done conscious comedy. From the time I started on Venice Beach, I’ve always done comedy that makes you think and feel as well as laugh. I was out on Venice Beach talking about racism when people didn’t want to talk about racism. I was talking about sex safe in ’86 when they had just finally come up with a name for AIDS. Before that, it was just a gay, white man’s disease. But AIDS didn’t discriminate. It was for everybody. People didn’t understand that you could get AIDS and you could be straight. I was out there reminding people that every time you had sex without a condom, you’re having sex with everybody that person had sex with. And this is like, ’86. In 1986, they wouldn’t do commercials for condoms. You couldn’t purchase commercial airtime for a condom. And all you need to save your life was a condom, but they wouldn’t sell commercial space for that on television or radio because they thought it was too dirty. I would stand in the middle of Venice Beach joking about that — five, hour shows a day. I would remind people that condoms come in a 6-pack, 8-pack, and a 12-pack.

6-pack is for Hispanic brothas — that’s making love Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday but off on Sunday. 8-pack is for black brothas. That’s for making love Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and TWICE on Sunday. And of course, the 12-pack is for the white guys…that’s January, February, March…

So, if people laugh at something like that then they let their guards down and they open up and then I can slip in the knowledge. I was talking about my addiction on Venice Beach before I even admitted to people that I was an addict. And I was talking to people about how to turn their lives around. So I’ve always done what I call ‘conscious comedy.’ The thing this show does is give me a greater platform to reach more people. And if it heals people… “YEA!” I feel like I can entertain ‘em and teach ‘em at the same time. And if I can entertain ‘em and teach ‘em, without letting them know that I’m teaching them — because then they stop. People don’t go out to spend money to get lectured. They don’t want to hear that. They can stay at home and get that from they wife for free. They go out to relax and have a good time and when they come to my show, they gon’ have the best time ever. And then halfway to their car, they gon’ say, “Wait a minute, he just said something…..” That is what I seek to do. To hit them with a pleasant intellectual and comedic surprise. ‘Cause when people come to my show, they not ever expecting what I hit ‘em with. They walk away with something far deeper, far richer and that’s what I’m seeking.

michael colyar

Have you been surprised by anything you’ve learned about yourself throughout the process of creating this show?

MC: Oh my Lord….girl, I have had so many surprises doing this thing. I’m finding out more of who I am as a person. Because it’s my momma, it’s about my family, so I had to research my mom and I found out so many things about my mother that I never knew. First, I didn’t know my momma didn’t graduate from high school. I didn’t know that when I started this journey years ago when I wrote this story. It never crossed my mind that my momma didn’t graduate high school because she was so smart. She insisted that we all read. We had to know words and how to pronounce them and find them, and I just thought my momma was a genius and had 2-3 degrees. Never dawned on me that she never graduated from high school. So as I researched it, come to find out, my momma got pregnant in her junior year by my daddy and had to get out of school to raise her kids. She never went back and I would have never known that. I learned that and realized that my stepfather was my mother’s high school sweetheart. What? She was with my daddy for 30 years but as it turned out, my stepdad was my momma’s first love. He took her to the first prom. He went to her daddy to try to get him to let them get married but she was 16 and he was 19 and her father said no, she was too young. So he went off and joined the Navy but while he’s in the Navy, my momma met my daddy and all bets were off for Walter Smith, who later became my stepdad. She didn’t see him no more, hear from him no more…until 25 years later.

She goes to take her car to the car dealership, and you know when you take your car to the dealership to get service, they send it out back to get washed. So she goes to the back to pick the car up….who you think was washing her car? Walter Smith! Her first boyfriend. Her first love. Imagine the thoughts going through my momma’s head when she seen him back there rubbing and scrubbing and soaping that car. Girl, they fell in love like them 25 years had never even passed and it was perfect. It was God doing his thing ‘cause my mom was already through with this relationship with my dad. She’d been married to him 25 years and he was not going to put that bottle down. He loved that bottle more than he loved himself and she tried and she waited, she went through five boys — she had five boys by my daddy and he still wouldn’t quit.

She finally was leaving him to save her boys and get up out them projects. And as she was getting her liberation together, she finally brought the first car my family ever had. She took the first job she ever had working at Spiegel’s, went to Sears and learned how to drive on her own and all that got her the car. The car got her to the dealership and who was at the dealership? Walter Smith. You can’t make no shit up like that. That’s God. And I never knew that. I never knew that was my mother’s high school sweetheart. We never discussed that the whole time. We loved our stepfather. He was an amazing man til the day he died. Me researching to do this taught me all of that. It taught me why I dress so good. That comes from my big brother and my big brother got it from my daddy. Come to find out, my daddy was a tailor. I knew he worked at a tailor shop. I knew he was a presser — that he ironed clothes for a living. But I didn’t know he was a tailor himself. Come to find out, all the Jewish businessmen would seek my father out to create and cut suits for them. He was a cold dresser, so we get all of this honestly from my dad. I didn’t know none of that until I sought this journey.

Is it your hope that audience members who resonate with your journey find your show to be therapeutic?

MC: I’m not just hoping it, I know that to be a fact. We’ve already done this show 14 times. I did 10 in Los Angeles. Angela Basset came and she said it blew her away. Lou Gossett came and said it blew his socks off. He can’t wait to see it on Broadway. Robert Townsend said it changed his life. Jenifer Lewis made everyone stand up…. although, I don’t think it’s appropriate in theater to scream out “STAND UP, BITCHES!”— but she did it. And then the National Black Theater Festival brought us to North Carolina to do the festival in August and out of all the shows they had, they said we had the best show. I already know that it affects and moves and changes lives because I’m telling my truth about my addiction and my recovery and my relationships. And people come up to me after the show who are addicts or were addicts or have addicts in their family or know people that are addicts and they say, “Thank you for healing us. Thank you for telling the truth.” So I know it’s affecting people. That’s why, for me, the story is important. People walk out this show and feel better about themselves.

Michael Colyar

If you could travel back in time to when you were first hitting the comedy scene, what advice would you give your younger self?

MC: Don’t smoke crack! That’s the first thing I’d tell myself. That’s the only thing in my life that I would change. We always think the easy way is gon’ be the way that works for us or the way it’s going to be the most fun or the way that brings us joy, and that’s just a lie. The truth of the matter is anything that’s fantastic you gotta work for. Don’t nothing good come to you easy. You gotta work for that ‘cause then you really appreciate it. Whenever stuff is just given to you, you can’t appreciate that. Joy even. You gotta go out and earn your joy. God created us to be happy. Happiness is our birthright but sometimes that means we gotta work for it. The easy way is not going to be found in a bottle or a pill. But don’t get me wrong, I had a good time when I was getting hight. I could get a rock and a crazy girl and it was on! But I lost a lot of time in that when I could’ve been doing more positive things and things that were more constructive… things that would’ve been more beneficial.

A lot of people who used to look up to me are now filthy rich. I ain’t filthy rich but I’ve been rich since I was 11 and I don’t know where the money is. I have friends that are filthy rich that used to look up to me and wanted to be me. I was wearing suits when Steve Harvey was still wearing Hammer pants. A lot of these cats come up trying to do my thing. This is my 32nd year doing comedy but you put your life on hold when you do drugs. When you do drugs, it’s just like pushing the pause button on your life. You might as well have a seat on the curb because the parade is gon’ pass you by. But I’m past all that drama now, and now, everything I ever hoped would happen is coming to me. I’m about to get my own sitcom. I’m doing this show. I’m doing concerts all over the country. I’ve written two books and a third one coming. Imma have the time of my life. It’s a lot of comics that’s got more money than me but ain’t nobody having more fun than me.

Anything else you have in the works that you want your fans to know about?

MC: Please look for the books. One book I’ve had out for two years but it’s my favorite, it’s called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House…I Knocked on the Door and a Brother Answered.”  It’s just my homage to President Barack Obama, who in my lifetime, is the greatest president I’ve ever seen. And if y’all didn’t like him before, I bet you like him now that you got this fool in office. And I want them to know about my newest book, “Miss Innocent Goes to Kool Skool and Other Silly Stuff,” which is a poetry book for adult children. I’m already using the artwork to prepare an Adult Swim cartoon for next season. But any of my stuff you find out by going on my webpage, which is: therealmichaelcolyar.

Follow me on Twitter @michaelcolyar and Instagram: michael_colyar, and check out my Facebook posts, and my YouTube page is jamming! Go and subscribe to my YouTube page. I do this piece called, “I’m Donald Trump, Bitch!” and I wear a Donald Trump wig and I just get on and rave and go on like this fool does but as me playing Donald Trump. It’s hilarious. I did about 30 of them before Facebook Live shut me down. They won’t let me go live no more. They told me: “If you keep doing this, we’re going to shut you down for one day. You are disrupting what we call “Community Standards.” You can’t bad things about the president.”

Now, this president says bad stuff about everybody. People with handicaps, minorities, women…. but you can’t say nothing bad about him. So first they cut me off for one day, then I came back and I kept doing it. They cut me off for three days. Then I kept doing it, they cut me off for three weeks. Now they won’t let me post on Facebook Live at all. They got me in Facebook jail. I’m trying to get somebody to put something on my books. At one point I’d done 30 of them, and the 30th one got 864,000 hits and they said, “No, this negro brings too many people to my president,” — ‘cause you know the CIA and the FBI are always monitoring social media and they love President Hatred. They shut me down. But I pulled all those pieces off before they could destroy them — ‘cause they start pulling them off — and put ‘em on my YouTube page. You can go to my YouTube page and still see these hilarious pieces called, “I’m Donald Trump, Bitch!”

One last thing, I’m in a new sitcom on UMC. It’s a new channel owned by Bob Johnson who created BET. UMC is called the Urban Movie Channel. We have a sitcom on there called “The Rich and The Ruthless.” Victoria Rowell, she created this sitcom. It’s a black soap opera run by a black production company. Girl, it is ri-diculous. We just got nominated for seven awards, The Indie Awards, and I got nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. But if you go online and put in: therichandtheruthless.com, the trailer will pop up and it’s hilarious. So, I’m having the time of my life.

 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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