…is what I want to scream aloud from the top of the highest building in the land. “America, wake the Fuck up!” is what would follow. But I can’t because it is politically incorrect. People might not want to associate themselves with me because of what the perception of me doing that would be. To me that perception is a person expressing a real feeling. Not knowing that I am just a little frustrated and would like a safe and harmless release and my weapon of choice would be to just simply exhale out loud… really loud. Isn’t that what movies are based on? A reflection of society and our thoughts.
This is me speaking to you. Not “Amaru” the comic entertainer. Not the Homeless Comedy Tour founder. This is me, Omar D. Lewis, Sr. I am going to speak freely about what has been going on with this tour and myself. I don’t care who likes it. I don’t care if it is politically incorrect or correct! I don’t care! I care about speaking the truth as I have seen it unfold since January 1, 2010.
Before I begin, I would like to address my homelessness. Yes, I was homeless and in a homeless shelter for a very short time. I acknowledge that and take nothing from anyone who has been for years or even decades. However, my short term experience was enough for me to see a problem first hand and want to do something about it… now! I don’t need anyone’s sympathy, empathy or charity! I don’t need big ballers, celebrities nor a big name behind my efforts to bring forth change in my world! If they want to join the cause and help their fellow man then that is fine with me. I started this on my own and will die trying to accomplish it on my own if that is what it takes!
Someone a month ago addressed and pointed out the fact that I had not been homeless for a long time as if that is not enough cause for me to take action. I don’t have to kill someone to realize that it hurts people and that it is something that needs to be addressed as well. With that said…
I have been asked on many occasions in the last two months of the goings on with the Homeless Comedy tour. Due to my promise of transparency here it is!
To date, I myself technically, still homeless. I have an address in California but no real permanent domicile since I left the homeless shelter myself. My kids live here in Michigan and I travel doing stand up not making that much money as true road comics know. So all of my money goes to travel and living in hotels and doing what I can for my baby’s while trying to change the world on my dime. I spend most of my time here in MI (Michigan) to be with my children and without a real place to call home in MI it is expensive to survive. I have been on my own since the age of 12 in and out of foster homes.
When I started this tour the idea was real to me and still is! I wasn’t blind or naive to the fact that their will be obstacles and people or entities that would come along and try to thwart our efforts. As a great comic once said, “Ain’t no money in the cure!” Chris Rock
In the beginning it was smooth sailing with me spreading the message via the stage, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. People have stepped up to the plate and volunteered and donated which is awesome!
The idea for the tour is simple. I travel 50 states in 50 days doing 50 shows collecting $1.00 US dollar from every American each year for the next 10 years to raise over 3 Billion plus dollars to END HOMELESSNESS… for real. It’s simple. Take SOME of that money, put together a consortium of the greatest minds in the country to come up with a business plan and a dollar amount that we could implement, to systematically end homelessness as we know it. PERIOD!! Simple right? If we posted on Craigs list right now, ”WANTED! THE CURE FOR CANCER! REWARD $1,000,000,000.00” Cancer would be cured by Monday morning! You and I know it! So why can’t we raise that money and create a think tank with their sole purpose being to end homelessness? It is only impossible because WE refuse to do it!!
So, I have this New Years resolution and I announce it on Twitter and Facebook. I get responses and supporters and a website donated by Atom Groom and associates only to run into an entity that rips us off on our first charity event. Funds were to be used to give our endeavors a kick start financially. It would have potentially helped us finance and pay for tour necessities from advertisement using a PR person and for whatever else was needed to sustain this venture and make the tour come to fruition.
A young lady by the name of, Yvette Araujo, of “Trinty Films” contacted me through Twitter wanting to champion our cause. Her handle is @Sodomthemovie on Twitter. Trinity Films is based in Austin, TX. Website is http://www.modos.tv (Evidence of our correspondence can be provided upon request)
She approached me about helping out the cause and it took us a second to finally talk and connect via phone because of our schedules and obligations. We finally spoke and to make an already long story short, she invited us to her film release function in Westlake, CA at a very prestigious venue. She invited me to perform and it was to serve as a fund raiser for The Homeless Comedy Tour and Northeast Denver Women's Center
Host: Trinity Films
Location: Sherwood Country Club (Real)
Westlake, CA US
When: Thursday, June 10, 5:00PM (Started late)
Phone: 805 504 4635
Venue: Sherwood Country Club
Where: Westlake, California
When: June 10th, 2010
Champagne Toast Promptly at 5 (Yeah, right!)
Black Tie Event (My guest and I and two of the actors had tux’s so that was money wasted)
Dress/Theme: 40's Black tie Classic (BS!)
Evening Events: Music, Dinner, Comedy and Door Prizes (True. Included some of our T’s that we paid for and other items)
Donations: Portion of Proceeds to benefit Hazel Whitsett and The Homeless Comedy Blog. (Total BS!!!!!!!)
Print Invitation for access to event
Please visit www.modos.tv
and also our Charities Websites:
Northeast Denver Women's Center
The Homeless Comedy Tour
Charitable Contributions accepted upon arrival. (That happened. We saw the cash and checks in the donation bowl)
This all took place June 10, 2010 as planned BUT…
…it has been 60 days and no money! Trinity Films is what they go by.
What went into the prep for this event and came out of pocket. T-shirts, mugs, hats, pads etc. Some travel expenses, tux’s, car rental etc. This was something we took serious and we wanted to make a great impression and represent the tour in an upstanding manner. We went all out! This was to be our debut to the world! This was it! This is what we needed to give the tour the shot in the arm it needed!
The weekend goes by and we get an email that says this from her Executive Assistant:
to me, Yvette
show details Jun 14
Thank you for attending the evening's event on June 10th. We appreciate the participation of you and your partner, Robert. All invoices will be reconciled on a net 30 basis. Please submit receipts via email.
Proceeds for the night's event were not as we hoped but the awareness meant everything.
Trinity Films will make a modest donation to both charities within the next 60 days after we have reconciled all invoices pertaining to the event.
We have already started the planning for next year's benefit and look forward to working with you and your plight against homelessness between now and then.
Says here, in that sneaky lingo, after they pay their bills out of the money donated then we get what was raised. WTF!!!
Now it is more than 60 days later and no reimbursement or donation of any kind. In fact, we haven’t heard anything from them since June 23, 2010 We have spent time and money on this sham to see no return what so ever! We have suffered hardships because of the actions of this group. We are asking for nothing from this anymore. We want to kill them with success. No we are not going to sue or go after them. Karma is a bitch and she is in town! We are just wanting you to be aware of what has taken place. This has slowed us down a bit but didn’t stop us.
After the event I stayed in California awaiting the check from them while sleeping in my car. Yes, I slept in my car for 22 days because my partner abandoned the project and me after what took place at the June 10, 2010 function. So I was left to fend for myself out in California. With the help of some friends I was eventually able to stay at various Hostels in California until my next gig.
In the mean time, I reached out to an old producer friend in TX and told him about the tour and documentary we were planning to execute during the tour and he came up with a better way of doing the documentary which involved producing a television show in regards to our efforts. So we moved forward on the idea and he began pitching it to production company’s he was in line with and networks and caught interest immediately. This was a new light shinning at the end of the tunnel! Something I could hold onto to that would make this still make sense to me. Something to grasp a hold to while still sleeping in my car. Something to have made the trip out to California worth while because at that point it was a bust because of the “charity” event that exhausted all of our funds.
In the excitement, I made another call to another business associate and friend in AZ because I had gotten a ticket while sleeping in my car. I could only laugh at it at the time. I called him because he said in an earlier talk that he was going to be in California so I wanted to meet up with him. I called and got the voice mail and shared the comical event on his voice mail plus the tour. I wanted to get his advice on how to handle the charity event situation. He called me back later that night and was like, “we can’t have you sleeping in your car. Makes for a good story and makes your cause even more real but we can‘t have that.” along with a compliment about my talents. We became friends 10 years ago via my screen writing works. He made some calls in regards to the tour and what I was doing. He called a gentleman who is very influential in the business of entertainment and whom I had to pitch our show to several times. He loved it and then the show was instantly elevated to another level as far as making it happen for real. This is great for the tour, right? After all that is said and done, we still have no money from Trinity Films and we are still awaiting for the paperwork which was promised by the production entity in regards to the show. To sum it all up… talk has been cheap and expensive for this tour and it hasn’t even started yet!
I am tired of the talk! I am tired of people coming along and bragging about what they can do and don’t do it! I am tired of people signing on thinking they are going to make a quick buck because yes, it is a great idea and will be successful but I’m not in it for that! I’m in it to end homelessness period! If this was an event to help another country, or some starving kids in Asia, we're all over that! I can count on one hand how many people are still around that talked a great game in the beginning.
We have done everything we have said we were going to do! Everything we have done has come up short because people just simply drop the ball. That is why contracts are important! That is why people go through agencies! That is why people are tired of giving! We postponed the tour because valid points were made in regards to the success of the tour. We want the tour to be as successful as possible. As it was put to me, “We don’t want it to look like a bootleg tour!” I agree!
Here it is, 4 weeks later, no contracts from the lawyer, no contact from the production company and no money. Now, no tour… til next year. I am the most patient person in the world! I didn’t always used to be but I learned patience and good things have come from it. Being patient is one thing but waiting a month for something so pressing is just disrespectful. A phone call or an email would have been just fine. We have to move on. The homeless have waited long enough.
I except the role I played and decisions made in regards to the tour and its development. I have been in this business long enough to know I am not the smartest guy in the world but I tend to surround my self with smarter people to get the job done just like the president. I know when a production is real or if it is just talk. Still, we can be had. Because just like I think I know the game there are people out there who know it better and it constantly changes. That is why I can’t do this by myself. I need resources and people who can weed out the bs. I need people who can make a phone call. I need people who can simply write a big check so that we wouldn’t need anyone’s approval to get the ball rolling full speed ahead. I need people who can make that decision that gets us through the door. I need people with people skills and a go get it attitude! I need people who want for their fellow man what they want for themselves! I need people who REALLY CARE! Not just for a photo opp. When you rip us off you rip off the homeless. Not to mention it is a ripple effect. Now I gotta steal from Bob to pay Tom and Tom wants his flippin money!! When you make promises and hold up progress due to ill intentions then you are doing it to the homeless because that is who this will benefit!
It hasn’t been all bad. I want to acknowledge Atom Groom, Joseph Gonzalez, Kevin Bruinsma, John Wayne Stevenson III, Pat Godwin and Rubin Jones for their time and contributions. For sticking in there with me through all of these difficult times. For believing in the possibilities and PUTTING THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS!!! They are still with me!
The postponement of the tour is good. One reason is because it gives me a chance to get back on my feet. In retrospect, that is what I should have done first but NYE was here and I needed a resolution and had to act on it from day one. If I can’t help myself how can I effectively help others? Plus, it gives us time to regroup and do this thing right! If this was easy it would have been done a long time ago.
While dealing with all of this, I am going through a divorce which enviably contributed to my homelessness. Plus operating a tour which will change our world while trying to stay employed as a working under rated comic. At the same time, dealing with the separation of family which is what my kids have known most of their lives and trying to maintain an active relationship with them while explaining to them that everything is going to be alright with a straight face is very difficult. I hear all the time from my eleven year old, “Daddy, when can we come live with you?” Very heart wrenching to an active father especially when I can‘t give her an honest answer. The older ones know what I am attempting to do but they also know that Dad doesn’t have a place to call home yet. They have all seen me go for my dreams and have never seen me give up on anything that I am passionate about and I am not about to start now. I tell them all the time that they can do anything they put their mind to and if Daddy doesn’t do it then I am no more then a liar.
Well, there it is in a nutshell. Much more to this but that is the meat of the situation. I am an open book and have always been. I just want to be a good person and give back and not just talk about it. I am a man of action and want to meet like minded people who are passionate and feel the same way. Yes, some folks out there could care less about the homeless. I have heard it said with my own ears. They feel that if it doesn’t affect them then it is not their problem. How they are so wrong about that. Homelessness is not always because of drugs and alcohol! Do the research!
According to the McKinney act of 1992, a person is considered homeless when they “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence and their primary night time residency is a shelter or institution that houses temporary residences.” The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimate that there are 3.5 million people who experience homelessness. Of that population one in 50 or about 1.5 million are children. (NCFH 2009) Statistically, homelessness can be caused by unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing, substances abuse or mental illness. With such a massive problem, how can it be managed? Where is the real solutions to this problem?
The answer is, Americans caring for one another instead of material positions and monetary gain. The answer is, The Homeless Comedy Tour! 50 Clubs 50 States in 50 Days! $1.00 US dollar from each American for the next 10 years then we will have the money to find that cure!!
IT’S ONLY IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL WE DO IT!!
Omar D. Lewis, Sr. aka Amaru aka The Homeless Comedy Tour