Mateen Stewart: Bigger Doors

August 21, 2023

Photo Credit

Greg Feiner


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


All com­e­dy comes from some­where. We’re not say­ing the ever-present note­books you see on the stool on stage, or peek­ing sala­cious­ly from the comedian’s back pock­et when they walk up, but rather the unique for­ma­tive moment” that tends to sur­face when we talk to our guests. For Detroit-native Mateen Stew­art, it comes from fam­i­ly, specif­i­cal­ly his moth­er, who (among many notable ges­tures) once gift­ed him a com­e­dy class for a birth­day.

My par­ents real­ized pret­ty ear­ly that [the­atre] was some­thing that I was inter­est­ed in,” he recalls, and Stewart’s ear­ly intense focus makes its first appear­ance even at a young age: I was mad that I did­n’t have enough lines…so I learned the whole play ver­ba­tim.” It’s the kind of ded­i­ca­tion and fer­vor that shows up through­out his sto­ry­line, whether com­e­dy or years of tap-danc­ing, or stage acting. 

Whoever would audition me, I'd take it
Mateen Stewart

With those pas­sions and a love of com­e­dy already nur­tured by the phe­nom­e­nal stars of Def Com­e­dy Jam, it’s no sur­prise that Stew­art would make his way to one of the Coasts”, in this case mov­ing from Detroit to Los Ange­les on a the­atre schol­ar­ship. Stew­art jumped in the car with his mom (as one does), and head­ed cross-coun­try, sans air-con­di­tion­ing. (Read­ers, do not try this in the cur­rent heat wave.)

The roles most sought after? All of them. Who­ev­er would audi­tion me, I’d take it,” Stew­art jokes. The down­side of that kind of relent­less vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty in the cut-throat LA envi­ron­ment means that for every suc­cess, there are expo­nen­tial rejec­tions.

For Stew­art, that led to a bout with depres­sion, unable to find the pay­off pro­por­tion­al to the grind. He emerged from a goals class” with a goal of doing a three-minute standup set, and decid­ing to pur­sue com­e­dy couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time. I won’t trot out the old adage, but…well, adages are adages for a rea­son aren’t they?

The thing about comedy, which I love, is the instant gratification of it
Mateen Stewart

Enter the gift­ed com­e­dy class pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned.

The thing about com­e­dy, which I love, is the instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of it,” Stew­art explains, where­as if you’re just focus­ing on act­ing, if you’re not audi­tion­ing, if you’re not in class,” then you’re not get­ting the imme­di­ate feed­back that is part of the thrill that the pro­fes­sion promis­es. The class exposed him to just how vibrant and dif­fer­ent per­form­ing could be, as well as how instan­ta­neous­ly you could judge how well you had done. The abil­i­ty to go straight to stage with­out the ardu­ous prepara­to­ry process that the­atre requires was just what he need­ed.

That said, suc­cess is nev­er instant, and it’s not the ter­mi­nus but an ongo­ing jour­ney for any­one pur­su­ing it. For every time you book a big­ger room, or a more exclu­sive venue, there will be that one gig you just couldn’t land. Once again, his moth­er gave him anoth­er valu­able: per­spec­tive. The doors slam­ming in your face are get­ting big­ger,” Stew­art relates her telling him, show­ing that you have to stop to appre­ci­ate the progress, not just bemoan the set­backs.

In 2020, Stew­art trag­i­cal­ly lost his moth­er. The pain that I felt from los­ing my mom is like some­thing I’ve nev­er felt before,” Stew­art says. In such a painful time, it also gave him a kind of pow­er by blot­ting out cre­ative restric­tions and inhi­bi­tions. In their absence, Stew­art says I [felt]I could just do what­ev­er, say whatever…I feel like she has a role in it.”

We like to think she’s been by his side all along as he built his career into the suc­cess Stew­art has today. From appear­ing on Jim­my Kim­mel and Last Week Tonight with John Oliv­er, to land­ing OFTV’s series LMAOF, his pas­sion and per­se­ver­ance in hon­ing his craft have clear­ly paid off.

On Sep­tem­ber 17th, 3 years after his mother’s memo­r­i­al, he returns to his for­mer home, Detroit, as a head­lin­er for the Motor City Com­e­dy fes­ti­val. He even dropped hints of a pod­cast project com­ing in Octo­ber, which he describes as edu­ca­tion­al com­e­dy”, and I’m already try­ing to refresh my phone in antic­i­pa­tion.

It’s the kind of abun­dance that seem­ing­ly would have you feel­ing your cup over­floweth, and Stew­art admits it feels like a a series of get­ting every­thing you want, and want­i­ng more”. We’re cer­tain it’s just a glimpse of much more to come.

Thank you to Anjali Iyer of Metro Pub­lic Rela­tions for arrang­ing this interview.

Fol­low Mateen

Fol­low Mar­ried by Mateen

Mateen can be seen and heard:

  • LMAOF Los Ange­les Spe­cial — releas­ed August 2023, avail­able on OFTV
  • Motor City Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val, Detroit, Michi­gan — Head­lin­er, Sep­tem­ber 14 – 172023
  • Late for Work — every Sun­day at Hol­ly­wood Improv
  • Stay Tuned for the release of a new pod­cast this Fall!
Support Comedy Wham

Follow @ComedyWham on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, and Tiktok

If you'd like to support our independent podcast, check out our Patreon page at: . You can also support us on Venmo or Paypal - just search for ComedyWham.

Mateen Stewart