Brad Stewart
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Brad Stewart

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"Opening for Joan Rivers, Nebraska Comic's Humor Hits Home"

March 15, 2013 by Michael Kelly OMAHA WORLD HERALD

Waiting tables for 15 years in Los Angeles, Nebraska native and comedian Brad Stewart waited for something else — a career break. He got it with Joan Rivers.

He has performed the opening act for her about 40 times.

But tonight in Omaha is special, he says, “my first time opening for Joan in my home state.”

In Los Angeles, he often did stand-up shows for free at small clubs, honing his act in front of gatherings of eight to 20. It's different now.

“Joan is a comedic icon,” said Brad. “Now I might be in front of 1,500 people. And the fact that my family can come and see me means the world to me. I've been looking forward to this for a long time.”

A son of Dean and Jackie Stewart, Brad and his family moved around in Nebraska when his school superintendent father took different jobs.

Inspired by Steve Martin, Brad studied comedy and organized sketches at pep rallies. His “first real taste of stand-up,” he said, came in becoming the Class C Nebraska state speech champion in Entertainment Speaking.

He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before moving to Los Angeles and trying to break in. He is now a full-time comedian and has opened for Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider and even the Temptations.

Brad moved back to Nebraska last year when his father was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. He died May 20. Returning home to Lincoln was “the best decision I ever made because I got to spend a solid three months with him.”

From Wood River to Joan Rivers, Brad Stewart has come a long way. Tonight at 8, at the Holland Performing Arts Center, he'll be tickled to make folks laugh in his home state. - Omaha World Herald

"Comedian Brad Stewart Braves Los Angeles, National Comedy Circuit"

April 24, 2013 by Ally Phillips THE DAILY NEBRASKAN (University of Nebraska Student Paper)

Growing up, Brad Stewart would memorize sketches by comedians like Steve Martin and perform them for his family. He was determined to perfect every pause and punchline.

With help from theater and speech team throughout school, Stewart has been fulfilling his dream to be a stand-up comedian and will headline at Red 9 Thursday night.

Stewart, a UNL alumnus, said his comedy is based off life observations and pop culture. More often than not, his jokes involve the music industry. He cracks jokes about the radio playing songs repeatedly, and even mocks genres of music he enjoys such as classic rock.

“It usually starts out with me being mad about something that sucks and me getting mad about it not getting the attention I think it deserves,” Stewart said.

To prepare for a show, Stewart said he likes to go to coffee shops and write a set list to figure out the order of his sketch, but he only sticks to it to a point.

“I don’t want it to be too regimented because I want it to be natural,” he said. “When I first started comedy, I started writing out everything, but then it was too robotic. It would be funny jokes, but it wouldn’t come out naturally.”

And that spontaneity is rewarding for Stewart, who said some of his best moments as a comedian come with delivering a successful joke he thought of that afternoon or even on stage during the show.

Stewart said he prefers to be as close to who he is in real life as he can be while on stage.

“I’m really sarcastic and kind of cynical,” Stewart said. “I like all kinds of comedy, but I like people’s whose persona is close to their true self or their comedy comes from an honest place.”

Paul Steger, Director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and one of Stewart’s former professors, said Stewart had always been funny and had all of the right skills to become a comedian.

“He’s funny, sharp-witted, smart and has the appropriate impatience with things that cause us all consternation,” Steger said. “I rather like his brand of humor. It’s always entertaining and he always makes me laugh.”

Stewart was a theater performance major for three years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I didn’t graduate because I was in a hurry to get to LA and wait tables”, he said.

Steger said moving to Los Angeles was what Stewart needed to do to follow his dream.

“I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t finish his degree (and went) out and do standup,” Steger said. “It was the most logical thing for him to do. It’s where all of his skills were and it’s exactly what he needed to be doing. He didn’t need to waste his time trying to be an actor.”

Steger said he remembers performing on stage with Stewart when Stewart was a student at UNL. They were in a comedy production together and Steger said Stewart had a moment of ad-libbed comedy during a show that made the whole audience laugh.

“It was always unpredictable working with Brad, but you knew that it would always turn out right,” Steger said. “He’s so quick-witted and he’s so observant that he possessed, even then, all of the right elements of a good comedian.”

When Stewart got to Los Angeles, he entered a comedy contest and won. The money he received went to registering his car.

“I thought I was going to make it then and there, and I did not,” Stewart said.

For the remaining 16 years Stewart lived in LA, he performed numerous free shows and ran his own comedy show called “No Name Comics” from 2005 to 2008.

“I enjoy comedy, period, so anytime I can bring a quality comedy show anywhere I’m just as proud of that,” Stewart said.

He was also given the opportunity to open for Joan Rivers. Stewart became friends with an agent from the same agency as Rivers, who then recommended him to open her show. Since then, Stewart has opened for Rivers more than 40 times, including when she was in Omaha a couple of weeks ago.

“(The Omaha show) was definitely ... the best one I’ve ever had,” Stewart said. “I don’t know if it was being in my home state and feeling even more comfortable and it just kind of flowed and everything fell into place, but I wish I would’ve recorded that.”

In May of last year, Stewart came back to Lincoln to spend time with his father who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS causes nerve cells in regions of the brain and spinal cord to gradually die.

“It’s one of the worst things ever,” Stewart said. “Your mind is still sharp and that’s what’s really bad about it. You can’t do anything, but you’re still all there.”

Stewart was able to spend the last three months of his father’s life with him. While living at home, Stewart spent every day with his father.
“You can’t put a price on that kind of time,” Stewart said.

Steger said that Stewart putting his career on hold last year was a risk he had to take.

“That’s just part o - The Daily Nebraskan


April 26, 2013 by Marlo Thomas THE HUFFINGTON POST

Nebraska native Brad Stewart waited tables for 15 years in Los Angeles, struggling to pay the bills and always looking for that big break. And then he landed it. In 2010, Joan Rivers chose Brad to open for her, an honor that he has now enjoyed more than 40 times -- including in his home state, which was a very special homecoming for him. “He is so talented and a joy to work with," Joan says. The change in his career is astonishing, says Brad: He has gone from performing for ten people in a club, to theatre audiences of 1,500 -- and all thanks to Joan. - HUFFINGTON POST

"Stand-up Comic Back in Home State to Perform"

August 15, 2012 9:00 pm • By JEFF KORBELIK / Lincoln Journal Star
IStand-up comic Brad Stewart is calling Nebraska home again.

He returned to Lincoln from Los Angeles in February to help take care of his father, who was dying from ALS.

His dad passed away in May, but he’s decided to stick around awhile for his mother. He will headline a comedy show Thursday in Omaha at the Waiting Room.

The biggest adjustment has been getting used to a Nebraska way of life, again, he said.

“It’s been more of a cultural shock coming back to Nebraska than it was when I went to Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s weird to be here again after 16 years.”

Stewart grew up in Bruning, Wood River and Arapahoe. He was a theater major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but left before graduating in 1995 to pursue acting in Los Angeles.

He found stand-up instead. His career has included opening for Joan Rivers, The Temptations and, most recently, Barry Manilow. He still opens for Rivers regularly.

On Thursday, he will share the stage with local comics Heather Jones and Will Meinen. The show, presented by OK Party Comedy, will be hosted by Ian Douglas Terry.

“I talk about struggling with life, about what gets you down and finding the humor in it,” he said. “I can be very therapeutic.”

He will have some new material to share. He’s ventured to Duffy’s in Lincoln to try out jokes. Established and up-and-coming comics practice their craft on Monday nights during the downtown bar’s open mic sessions.

“It’s not an easy audience,” Stewart said. “If I get a titter there, then it probably will be a good joke." - Lincoln Journal Star


Still working on that hot first release.



Joan Rivers, comedy legend & star of Fashion Police on E!, says comedian Brad Stewart is, "So talented and a joy to work with!" ( and if you're familiar at all with Joan Rivers you know she does not give out compliments lightly ). Brad started working with Joan in early 2010 and quickly became her favorite opening act.

Brad's comedy is a mix of his unique observations about life's foibles and his love/hate relationship with pop culture. He also doesn't care for the word "foibles" and thinks he should probably edit that out of this bio at some point.

Music is a big love of Brad's and a lot of his comedy comes from his frustrations with the state of popular music which should be relatable to anyone with ears.

In 2013 Brad was chosen as one of Huffington Post's "12 Comedians to Watch" by TV legend Marlo Thomas.

As well as being the favorite of Ms. Rivers and Ms. Thomas, Brad has also shared the stage with Saturday Night Live vets Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz and Motown Legends The Temptations. .

Brad performs at many clubs and theaters all over the country winning new fans everywhere he goes. From The Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to the Hilton Casino in Atlantic City, Brad has entertained many diverse audiences with his high energy, observational style of humor.

Brad Stewart began his comedy career shortly after moving to Los Angeles from Nebraska and winning 1st place in a COMIC RELIEF sponsored comedy contest. He beat out hundreds of comedians to win $500. Brad used it to register his car in California.