As a born hustler, in the projects of Chicago, a young Michael Colyar was already well aware of his dreams, and where he wanted to take them
From selling candy and cookies on a cardboard box made into a stand, outside of his mother’s apartment, to 11 cent classic records he would turn into a worth of two dollars, selling them to teachers, until fulfilling his passion for comedic entertainment, Colyar was already destined, a true success story on the rise.
Around the time when Colyar was a student at Logan Park High School, his interest in acting began to expand, as he entered in numerous school plays and ultimately begin writing jokes, he would tell to strangers on the streets of Chicago in 85.
He connected more to comedy, rooting from his love for acting and general entertainment since he was a child, and figured he would take his natural hustling ability to Hollywood, where he could commit to his passion year-round. “I think hustling was the first thing I was interested in. I like to have things, and to get things you need money, and to get money you gotta hustle. I always had things I could make money with. I was acting and I thought I should try my hand at comedy. So I started making money. When I was acting, I wasn’t making any money. And these white people would walk up to me and give me money and I liked it. But comedy came to me pretty early, I loved being funny, I watched other people be funny. And then in time, I realized that was my passion; to act and do comedy. My passion was always going toward Hollywood because I always wanted to be a performer and an entertainer and now I’m actually living the dream.”
It’s almost as if as soon as Colyar stepped foot into Venice Beach, he was unstoppable, doing five shows a day for nine years and deservingly, earning him the title as “The King of Venice Beach,” for his consistent good impressions on the crowd and incomparable humor.
This was the start of what would soon land Colyar on our favorite TV shows and films, such as “Martin,” “Homeboys in Outer Space,” Barbershop,” “Norbit,” Disney’s first black princess and animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” as Buford and “Black-ish, working alongside the legends as he continued to strive, to make his own mark as the same.”Write all the time, you have to write all the time. You gotta be current, and you have to look at the news every day, you have to find out what’s going on. As artists, we have to know what’s going on and if we’re informed, it makes our comedy more true. Bottom line is none of this is difficult, all you have to do is have the dream and follow the dream. 15 minutes a day is all you need to achieve your dream. In three months, your dream will be standing in your hand. Declare that you’re a comedian. Once you declare it, the universe accepts and declares it too.”
“My passion was always going toward Hollywood because I always wanted to be a performer and an entertainer, and now I’m actually living the dream.”
But it was before the roles and effects of fame started to kick-in, when Colyar, living in a one-bedroom apartment at the time, without a car and barely having any money, appeared on “Star Search, where he figured out what his calling was as a person, to always give back.
With the $100,000 prize money, Colyar won on the 1990 run of the show, he gave half of the profit to homeless charities in the L.A. area. His experiences being on Venice Beach on a daily, opened his eyes to many people who were without homes and he said it imprinted within his system, that he had to find a way to help out.”I always believed that if you ever want anything in this world, you have to learn to give all, to all. Suddenly I had one hundred thousand and that was already more than I had, so I thought, I should be okay with fifty thousand. And I felt like why can’t I share that with others. I came to California to be a millionaire and realized, the planet isn’t about me, it’s about you, it’s about finding my brother and sister, so when I embrace you, that’s when I truly embrace myself. I want to be the best human being I can be, so instead of making a living, I want to live my making. I have gotten back way more than $50,000 in gifts of people, from when I gave back.”
“15 minutes a day is all you need to achieve your dream. In three months, your dream will be standing in your hand. Declare that you’re a comedian. Once you declare it, the universe accepts and declares it too.”
And indeed he has received blessings falling right back into his lap, having the opportunity to perform six to eight shows of stand-up a week while filming, becoming a published author, and being in the presence and gaining great friendships with creative geniuses, the late Dick Gregory and Bernie Mac. Mac, who Colyar said was one of the first people to support his aspiring career, also introduced him to where every rising comedian wanted to be, “Def Comedy Jam.” “Dick Gregory was a brilliant comedian, and the first black man to perform on national TV. He became the first national artists to make that kind of money, as a comedian. He was just magnificent and he was a great friend of mine, great friend. And Bernie Mac was wonderful, he helped me in so many ways. Bernie Mac helped me get on Def Comedy Jam in the very first season. I didn’t even know Def Comedy Jam existed or was coming. He told me about it when I was out on Venice Beach and at BET Live: L.A., where I met and hungout with some of the coldest black artists in the country. Bernie Mac was one of the first guys to come on and support me. Bernie was a real man, he cared about his family and community. So it was just awesome to know him, and not to mention he was brilliantly funny, a real genius.”
Now, Colyar is right where he wants to be, coming straight from L.A. where he resides, with his first stage and one man play, Michael Colyar’s Momma.
A 100 city production over a timeframe of two-years, which premiered on February 24, tells the struggles and successes of Colyar’s life, when he was a young hustler in Chicago and his journey to Hollywood, to his years of battling a drug addiction, and how that has gotten him more connected to his faith and God’s plan.
“I want to be the best human being I can be, so instead of making a living, I want to live my making.”
March 1st will mark Colyar being seven years sober. He said he owes his strength to God and his mother, who has transcended, but still puts a huge impact onto his life and is the reason for him taking a leap of faith with this production, in dedication to her legacy. “I hope that people will walk away with knowing that life is to be lived. You’re going to make mistakes, but we fall down but we get back up. If you live long enough, you’re going to do some stuff you regret, you’re going to wish you had done. You have to start off by forgiving yourself, go on and love yourself. God already loves you unconditionally, so don’t beat yourself up. Don’t live in guilt. God ain’t mad at you for nothing, he can’t be, because he already knows everything that you’re going to do many years before you do it, so you have nothing to worry about. Keep God first and keep humor in the game. If you can laugh through it, you can get through it.”
Michael Colyar’s Momma will feature original music from Colyar himself, who wrote and composed the opening track of the play, “I Love My Momma.” Other artists will accompany Colyar on the soundtrack as well.
The story, Colyar says, will display triumphs and overcomings of heartbreak, love, and addiction, but will also be genuinely hilarious. He said everyone in the audience will be thrilled from not only being there during the taping of the show, but to feel the show, which will premiere as a Netflix original.
“Keep God first and keep humor in the game. If you can laugh through it, you can get through it.”
Keep up to date with Colyar’s stand-up and “Michael Colyar’s Momma” shows, and when they’ll be heading to your city:
@MichaelColyar on twitter
@_michaelcolyar on Instagram
& The Real Michael Colyar on Facebook