Most people know your name. What’s your claim to fame?
Michael: Well I’m an actor, comedian and motivational speaker. People probably know me from films and television. A lot of people know me as Mr. Whitaker, Gina’s boss on the sitcom Martin. Some people know me as Showboat from House Party 3. Some people know me from Def Jam or Comic View or one of the many shows that I have done. My newest movie which is still out now on BET Plus is called Holiday Heartbreak. That is my biggest film so far and it’s the first time I’ve ever starred in a movie. I’ve been in 38 movies and this is my first time actually starring number one on the call sheet.
How did you start to develop your unique sense of style?
Michael: You know, it’s hard to say I actually developed it. I know that my oldest brother Dave junior was a haberdasher. He was always sharp. I understand that my father was but I was too young to see my father because he was a tailor and he really dressed well. But my oldest brother, man! He was always suited and booted. So in his apartment in Los Angeles he had clothes from one end of the room lined up to the other. He had shoes everywhere…hats and it was just always fly. And you know, I grew up in the 50s and 60s so I grew up watching television where everybody dressed up when they went to work. So if you watched the Ozzie and Harriet show, My Three Sons, or any of those early movies and early TV shows they would say “I’m going to work dear” and they’d have on their little suit and ties. I’ve always had an affinity for suits. When I got to high school, I would even wear suits sometimes and show up with a briefcase. You know, people would be like what’s wrong with that weirdo but I’ve always just loved to dress. I love clothing and I love visuals and things like color and style, shape and form…I like that. I guess my style developed from just being around all types of eclectic people from around the world.
What brings you to the State of North Carolina?
Michael: It was a plane! Just kidding. I came this time to perform at the wonderful Comedy Zone here in Greensboro, North Carolina. Never been here before, never had the chance to perform here but the owner also allowed me to do his other club in Greenville, South Carolina last week. It went really well and this one is going good so I love this city. I have only been here a couple of days but I’ve had so much fun. Greensboro has a soul food restaurant in the mall, Wilks Skillet, you know ‘bout that, what! They have hot water cornbread and grape Kool Aid! I was done when they said grape Kool Aid! Wilks Skillet has hot water cornbread that they cook in the skillet and it is crunchy right on the top. They had collard greens, cabbage and pork chops, fried chicken and the candy yams with that brown syrup. But it was that grape Kool Aid that killed all of it.
COVID-19 has changed a lot of things for people and many businesses. What do you miss about performing live?
Michael: The money. Yeah, um, first and foremost it’s been a wicked year for artists you know because so many venues that we perform at are closed. I lost all my jobs on March 13th of 2020 because I booked at a club every weekend for 8 months in advance. Then on that day every comedy club closed at the same time so I miss the live audience. You know that feedback of the live audience. I was interviewing Rocky Carroll from NCIS the other day on one of my shows called SuperStar Interviews. Lynn Whitfield was on the show that day too. One of the things Rocky talked about was theatre. He started in theatre and he did Broadway and then he got a wonderful job with his friend Rock Dutton. He’s been in Hollywood ever since doing TV and stuff but he longs to get back on that stage man. There’s something about the immediate response of the audience when doing yo stuff. And nobody needs to tell you if it’s funny when it’s live. When it’s live, oooo, you can tell because it’s quiet. If it’s quiet and you’re up there five minutes it’s just quiet. I miss that! I miss the money but mostly I miss the actual audience and the interaction with the people.
What should talented people like actors and comedians know about Picture Studios?
Michael: Well they should know that Picture Studios, first of all, are nice people and they lay it out for you. You know they’re professional and it’s clean…it’s fresh. I came in through the front they had a whole buffet laid out for me. They have great people who know what they’re doing. You can come here and shoot your project whether it’s video or film and you’re going to get the same level of professionalism that you would get at any other professional house. So that’s what I would say.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Michael: The best piece of advice I can give is that everything is about family and God. Once you get family and God down everything else takes care of itself and falls in line with the universe. Everything you want or want to be or want to do will happen but it has to be God first. If God is not the answer, you are seriously asking the wrong questions.
What would you say to your younger self of 20 years ago?
Michael: Don’t smoke crack or any other substance that will alter your mind. When we’re younger we think that’s so hip and that’s the thing to do. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it ain’t good. So don’t do it, don’t do it. I would also say that education is so important. No matter what it is you want to do, no matter what age you are, start studying it. Pay attention to it, focus on it and anything you focus on is going to happen so you want to be careful on what you focus on.
You don’t want to focus on negative things and you don’t what to have negative talk. My friend Les Brown likes to call it O.Q.P. Only. Quality. People. Only be around people who are positive, who care about you and celebrate you. And don’t have any sour apples around. Don’t have any sour apples around. Stay away from anybody around that is always complaining and always has a problem. People like that can always find a turd to put in the punchbowl. If you have one of them around you, get away from them quick, fast and in a hurry.
Run like your hair is on fire. They call that a Richard Pryor.
What would you like to say to the City of Greensboro?
Michael: I want to say thank you to the City of Greensboro because they have come out and they have sold out all the shows. They’ve come and bought all the merchandise! I have to tell you that everyone here has welcomed me. I mean y’all really do believe in southern hospitality. Y’all aren’t just saying it, I mean everybody. They’ve taken me places and fed me. Everybody here treats you like family so that’s been really cool. People keep feeding me everywhere!
I went to Dame’s Chicken & Waffles. They’ve got a blueberry waffle, where they cook the blueberries right inside and they have a schmear, you know a schmear of butter blended with honey or vanilla, or vanilla nut…delicious. And they’re awesome people, really really nice people. They got us a wonderful table and the owner called and gave his blessings so I give my love out there to Dame’s as well as Wilks Skillet.
You know I want to thank my friend here, King David…who is just such a great comedian. King David picked me up and has taken me around everywhere. We went to the mall, the strip joint, no…wait, not a strip joint…Ha Ha…but no we been all around the town having a great time so I want to thank him and of course the Comedy Zone. I wouldn’t be here if they weren’t getting me this paper…because you know I can’t travel here for free now!
Alright, we’re going wrap it up. Do you have any final words?
Michael: I gotta tell you about my morning show. I do a thing called The Michael Colyar Morning Show. You can find it on YouTube by searching “The Michael Colyar Morning Show”. So far we’ve done a hundred and ninety episodes and each show is an hour and a half. We do it five days a week and we designed the show so that people have a place where they can come laugh and pray every day. Halfway through each show, we stop for prayer, you know. I think the folks are messed up more with anxiety and fear than they are with the actual virus so I want them to have a place, a sanctuary, an oasis where they can come and laugh, hear good music you know and pray. And stay in touch with the one ‘cause it’s all about God, it’s all good ‘cause it’s all God. I want people to know that. They should also follow me on Instagram. We have two shows every Wednesday evening where I interview superstars. I’ve done Wyclef Jean, Doug E Fresh, Russell Simons, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Tiffany Haddish who was amazing, Les Brown who changed peoples lives Lynn Whitfield and just so many wonderful artists like Hill Harper and George Wallace. I do it on Instagram at six o’clock in the evening [Pacific Time] and then every Thursday at eleven o’clock [Pacific Time].
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