How much do panhandlers really make? Can you possibly make a living at this? How much of a difference does a funny sign make? Will people give to a guy in a banana suit? Does every sign have to say "God Bless?" Important questions. I aim to find the answers. Give me a dollar. God Bless.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fringe Magazine Article

Shannon Peach of Fringe Magazine bought me a pot of tea and interviewed me for an article on Why Lie I Need A Drink just before our big premier. Click Here to read the article.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Praise From Liv Moe

Friday night I saw KLJ's new flick Why Lie I Need a Drink and it was super good. I saw it the first time a few months back when he had a rough cut screening and I'm impressed at the amount of fine tuning that took place since then. A feature length film is such a huge undertaking and this was an ambitious attempt to get right on the first try. Big congrats!
From Live Moe's Blog

Sunday, March 09, 2008

bourgeois faggot

So someone stormed out of the theater during the first half of the premier bitching that we were making fun of homeless people. He was quite intoxicated. The Crest employee at the door asked him if he needed anything and the man said, "Do you know the meaning of the word bourgeois? Faggot!"
I think I'm okay with this guy not liking the movie. God Bless!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Premier

So yeah, the premier was great. Nice, big, loud, happy crowd. We'll get more pictures up soon. Thanks Mattie for this pic.
THANKS to everyone who came out to the show and to The Crest for hosting it.

News 10 Clip

Click Here to watch a clip of Keith Lowell Jensen and Jonathan Morken talking about the clip on News 10. We'll get more clips up soon. Be sure to watch through to the end when we hear my favorite quotes:
"Well the banana suit wasn't helping."
"No, that was kind of frightening."

Friday, March 07, 2008

And What's Next

Thanks everyone for supporting the opening tonight.
We'll be looking for representation and distribution and more screenings soon.

Also, you can catch my other project, The Coexist? Comedy Tour next Friday at UC Berkeley. Click here for details. You can even buy me a soy latte.

TV and Radio

You can hear us on Insight on KXJZ at 2pm and you can see us on News 10's 5 O-clock broadcast.



The big premier is tonight. Click here for details. See ya there.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sacramento News and Review

"The myth of the comfortable cadger

Everybody knows pandhandlers actually make serious bank and only pretend to be poor and desperate, right?

Uh, well, OK. Some people think that. Which is why local comedian Keith Lowell Jensen decided to see what kind of living he could really make by hanging out at freeway exit ramps with naught but a cardboard sign, his wit and no shame.

With local filmmakers Jonathan Morken and John Astobiza, Jensen documents his experiences in a new film, Why Lie? I Need a Drink, premiering at the Crest Theatre Friday, March 7.

Doors open at 7:30 for an 8:30 show, which will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Visit for more information. Thank you and God bless."

Jon Kiefer arts editor, Sacramento News and Review


Sacramento Bee

"When Keith Lowell Jensen gave money to panhandlers, the people with him often would react with cynicism and/or amazement, he says.

Why was Jensen, a Sacramento comedian, writer and filmmaker, giving cash to people who probably cleared more money per day than he did?

It was, at best, a dubious argument. But Jensen found the idea of the affluent panhandler so prevalent that he decided to hit the streets of Sacramento to see just how much money could be made.

"Everyone seems to have a dad who heard about - or is (otherwise) one step removed from - the guy who makes $500 a day," Jensen says.

For his experiment, Jensen pulled out all the stops, using cardboard signs with clever slogans and donning a banana suit to attract more attention and change. The results can be seen in his film "Why Lie? I Need a Drink," which plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Crest Theatre.

As a comedian who "wants to be funny, but relevant," Jensen sought to mix an absurdist approach with social commentary. Along with documenting his attempts to panhandle, "Why Lie" features interviews with homeless people discussing their experiences.

"There are times when someone was telling their story, and we got really interested in it, and we dropped the humor altogether," Jensen says.

And no, Jensen didn't get rich from panhandling, but he did collect some cash as part of his experiment. If he was dressed in costume and the donor was in on the gag, Jensen might spend the money on tape stock for his film project. But if he received money while dressed in regular clothes, he would pass it along to a homeless person in need, as the giver had intended.

Tickets for "Why Lie? I Need a Drink" are $12 at the door, $10 in advance and are available at the Crest by calling (800) 225-2277 or through"

Posted by Bee Film Reviewer Carla Meyer to


A review from Capitol Weekly

Click image to enlarge
Special Screening
“Why Lie? I Need A Drink?”
Director: Keith Lowell Jensen

If you’ve spent more than thirty minutes in the downtown Sacramento area, you’ve probably had somebody ask you for money. If you’ve spent more than a few days here, you’ve probably had the same people ask you for money multiple times, using the same stories and circumstances. In my own experience, after hearing one woman explain to me that she just needed enough for a bus fare to get home to her daughter, at about the same time of the day on five or six different occasions, it became apparent that it was either a scam or she had no ability whatsoever to plan ahead. It turned out that she lived in a hotel around the corner.

Over a three year period, and with the help of local filmmakers Jonathan Morken and John Astobiza, comedian and writer Keith Lowell Jensen tested the theory, that many people seem to share, that some panhandlers make more money on the street than they might in regular employment. Armed with cardboard signs and a banana suit, Jensen took to the street corners of Sacramento in an attempt to make more in an hour than at his day job. He also tried begging for money online, with personal websites, chat room requests, and even an e-bay auction for advertising space on his off-ramp sign. In one experiment, he follows online suggestions for sign phrases with some humorous results.

Throughout the documentary, Jensen seeks advice from other panhandlers, discusses the phenomenon with law enforcement officials and passersby, and continually seeks out the elusive, wealthy panhandler. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the only one doing this and the film also includes discussions with others who have either examined the world of panhandling or tried it out for themselves in search of a story or as an experiment. And along the way, the project gained substantial media attention, with newspaper, radio, and even TV appearances.

However, there’s also the violent side of the undertaking, with homeless people sharing stories of assaults and even one altercation that occurred while the team was filming at a gas station. One man recounts his experiences on the streets and says that he was treated better in prison, while a woman who has lost her children to drug addiction describes her “home” on the side of an off-ramp as being relatively pleasant because she at least has a mattress under the foliage.

The film is shot and edited in a simple style, and the experiment is as much an extended gag and art project as a serious social commentary, but it can’t help being thought provoking in the process. As Jensen himself discovers, regardless of how lucrative the undertaking is or isn’t, it’s certainly not an easy way to make money on a regular basis.

The world premiere screening of “Why Lie? I Need A drink” takes place at the historic Crest Theatre, for one night only, on Friday, March 7th at 8:30pm. Additional information about the film and the project can be found online at

Review by Tony Sheppard, co-director of the Sacramento Film and Music Festival (, originally written for Capitol Weekly ( .