Though he straddled standup comedy and acting with equal emphasis, Michael Colyar (pronounced "Koll-yer") initially made his most dramatic strides behind the microphone. In that venue, Colyar broke from the mold set by many African-American comedians by delving into routines neither vulgar, nor profane, nor directed exclusively to a black audience. As performed during weekends on the Boardwalk of Venice Beach, CA (an event that occurred for over a decade, five times a day, every Saturday and Sunday -- which prompted many to tag Colyar "The King of Venice Beach"), Colyar's schtick transcended demographical barriers by appealing to those of all ages, ethnicities, and personal backgrounds. Significantly, Colyar (recalling, for example, Whoopi Goldberg's mid-'80s Broadway stage revue) interwove piercing insights and cultural lessons throughout his routines, thus balancing entertainment with an educational element seldom heard in the comedy arena.
Colyar scored his on-camera breakthrough in 1990, when he won the standup competition on Star Search -- reeling in 100,000 dollars in the process. He also made headlines for altruistically taking half of the money he won on that program and donating it to Los Angeles-area charities. By the time this occurred, the performer had also diversified by moving into film roles, frequently though not always in a humorous vein. Early assignments included small supporting roles in the comedies Hollywood Shuffle (1987), Johnny Be Good (1988), and House Party 3 (1994), and the dramas What's Love Got to Do With It? (1993) and Poetic Justice (1993). In 1999, Colyar also signed on as the host and emcee of his own cable talk show, BET Live from L.A. From the outset of the following decade, Colyar placed a renewed emphasis on standup material, particularly in comedy videos and televised specials. He also continued his acting work on the side, with a lead in the low-budget, direct-to-video urban drama The Beat (2003), a small supporting role as Morris the Barber in the hit Eddie Murphy farce Norbit (2007), and another supporting turn in Fred Durst's sports comedy The Longshots, opposite Ice Cube and Keke Palmer.