LINCOLN, Neb. (NCN) -LINCOLN, NE — Nebraska comedians are mourning the loss of a pillar of the state’s comedy community.
Local comics say Brad Stewart had an impact on everyone in the industry from Lincoln to Omaha to Los Angeles.
“Brad Stewart is a comedian and an artist all the way to the core,” comedian Cameron Logsdon said. “Brad is somebody who cared passionately about his own art and would scream that everybody should support everyone else’s art.”
And now Nebraska’s comedians are the one shouting about him.
Stewart died from pancreatic cancer this week at the age of 48. But he won’t be remembered for an ending. He’ll be remembered for being there at the beginning of many people’s careers, including Cameron Logsdon and David Shaun.
“Brad Stewart was the first person to ever pay me to do stand up comedy,” Logsdon.
“His show at the Zoo Bar was my first invite to a show. It was my first step outside of the open mic,” Shaun said.
“Brad… has always invested in new comedians, in upcoming comedians – myself included – and has always been somebody who said, ‘you can do this, you can do this from here. Don’t give up, keep trying, you’re good,’” Logsdon.
For many, that beginning came at The Zoo Bar in Lincoln. Stewart started his Zoolarious show after moving back to Lincoln from Los Angeles. The Arapahoe, Nebraska native performed at California’s biggest clubs and was the opener for the legendary Joan Rivers.
He returned to the Cornhusker state to care for his ailing parents, but he didn’t set down his passion.
“Instead, (he) infected everyone around him with that same drive and that same passion and that same addiction and love for the art that we know as comedy,” Logsdon.
His infectious personality made him popular at his final day job, working for Sen. Robert Hilkemann at the state capitol.
“It did not take long for me to feel like he’d been there forever,” Legislative Aid Kate Wolfe said. “We became fast friends.”
“He loved to talk on the phone. When people would call in, Brad would give them all the time they needed, which is what a lot of constituents want to have,” Hilkemann said.
His friendliness was evident in his Zoolarious show, which always started with a high-five for every audience member and ended with playing “Thank You for Being a Friend” from “The Golden Girls.”
Comedian Zach Peterson says the atmosphere of that show might be Stewart’s lasting legacy.
“There was always a stage and there was always a friend. Every Sunday you knew where to go. I don’t think that will be soon forgotten,” Peterson said.