by Ryan Meehan
Although he always loved being the center of attention, Matt started down a very different road. After graduating with honors from Princeton University and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he received his MD, he returned home to the University of Colorado for his residency in Internal Medicine. Then, in a move that shocked patients and parents alike, he quit his job as a doctor and moved out to Hollywood to pursue standup comedy and he never looked back. Matt quickly began headlining clubs across the nation and was selected as one of 10 comedians to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. His world experience did not stop there as he made his first overseas trip to entertain the troops on 9/11 of that same year to perform in South Korea. Since then, he has bunkered down with the troops sharing his comedy in Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Around that time, Matt also started appearing in commercials for Pontiac, Dodge, JC Penney, PlayStation, Bank of America, Off! and Lamasil. He fulfilled a lifelong dream to be a superhero when he was featured in a campaign for Net10 as Captain Obvious. You may also recognize Matt’s voice from campaigns for Six Flags, Land Rover and as the voice of DirecTV for three years. He also voiced his first video game, Command & Conquer 3, which thrills Matt as he finally can now write off playing video games as business research. Matt began his hosting career with the show Scream Play on E! which allowed Matt to combine his love of movies and dangerous stunts. He then got lucky as he ran the streets of Las Vegas hosting Casino Night for GSN. Shortly thereafter, he started a 5 year run as the Goto Guy on Clean House, the #1 show on the Style Network. He also hosted a spin-off show called Clean House Comes Clean and tackled 5 Messiest Homes in the Country, garnering ratings 400% higher than Style had ever seen and earning Matt a Daytime Emmy (the first ever for the network). He currently hosts American Ninja Warrior for NBC and is the voice of Dumbest Stuff on Wheels for the Speed Channel. He’s also hosting a special for the History Channel called Invisible, about the world around us that we don’t see. Matt is adding the title Producer to his resume as he just created, sold and produced his first show Saving Mom on the Style Network. He’s also producing the Best of American Ninja Warrior for NBC. He made his movie debut in Transformers 2 and made appearances on the Drew Carey Show, NCIS, Courting Alex and had a recurring role on General Hospital. No, he did not play a doctor. He’s appeared on Premium Blend on Comedy Central, Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen and he’s a regular panelist on the hit Fox News Channel Show “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld”. His CD, I Want a Happy Ending, has become an iTunes sensation. You can also hear his comedy on SiriusXM, Pandora and countless radio stations around the nation. Matt is based out of Hollywood but you can usually find him online, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Everybody remembers where they were the moment they became Twitter verified…Where were you when that magical experience happened; and how did you go about getting making sure that the Twitterverse was aware that you actually were yourself?
MI: It’s like getting your driver’s license & losing your virginity in one fell swoop… truly one of life’s great moments. And it happened about 2 months ago. Getting verified, not losing the virginity. I’m saving that for the season finale. Before I was verified, I just had to use my charming wit to convince people I was me. That and there was a shortage of Matt Iseman impersonators.
RM: How in the world did you make the transition from being a physician to being an actor and a comedian? On a scale of one to ten; how accurate are the television shows which depict individuals in the field of medicine?
MI: I left medicine because my heart just wasn’t in it. I wish I’d realized that before medical school, would’ve been a lot cheaper. When I hung up the stethoscope, I wanted to try something totally opposite, so I moved out to LA and tried stand up. The second I hit the stage and had an audience I was hooked. It got even better when they started laughing. As for the medical shows, they’re ridiculously off base. ER was huge when I was in medical school and I kept thinking, “When will I boink a hot nurse on a gurney?” Never happened. And not just because I use the word boink. Honestly, the show that most accurately depicted life in the hospital was Scrubs… using humor in ghoulish situations to keep from realizing that you were surrounded by death and disease. I like to think if I’d stayed in medicine, I would’ve ended up like John C. McGinley. Now I just want to work with him.
RM: Do the producers of “American Ninja Warrior” allow you to attempt the stunts that the contestants do on that program? If so, which ones were the hardest to complete? What can we expect from this season of the show that will make it different than the previous five?
MI: They used to, then I failed so badly leaping off the mini tramp on the Jump Hang that, when I plunged headfirst into a shallow pool of water, they thought I died. After that, they literally banned me from attempting the obstacles. As for this season, it is truly bigger and badder. We’ve added another qualifying city, so more contestants and they’re more talented than ever before but the obstacles are diabolical. We’re really setting up a showdown here: humans versus obstacles… it’s like Terminator: Judgment Day being played out on cargo nets, minitramps and salmon ladders. Having said that, I predict this is the year humans will win: someone will conquer Mt. Midoriyama. And SkyNet.
RM: Your newest disc is entitled “I Want a Happy Ending”…When you look back on your life years from now, what are the things that you would like to have happen so that the story of Matt Iseman does indeed have a happy ending?
MI: Well, I don’t think becoming a pro athlete is in the cards… I really am enjoying the way life is unfolding. I can’t say it was the path I always envisioned, but it’s working out because I really love what I do. From here on out, I’d love to continue working until I drop dead, maybe have some kids and travel in space. Seriously, I’d love to see the earth out the window of a spaceship.
RM: You are a producer now…What responsibilities come with that title that the average entertainment consumer might not be familiar with? And what can you tell us about “Saving Mom”?
MI: Being in front of the camera is pretty straight forward, do your homework, show up and have a blast. Producing covers a wide spectrum of activities from lining up the people to be on the show and figuring out the story you want to tell and then making sure the shoot goes well. Then, after the fact, you have to help choose the footage and make sure that you’ve got the story. As for Saving Mom, it had its appearance on the Style Network… and, while we may have helped save mom with snappy design and tips on family behavior, we couldn’t save the show. But it was a great experience.
RM: Since you have a lot of different irons in the fire, do you have a certain time of the day or the week that you dedicate strictly to writing new material for your stand-up sets? How would you best describe your writing style when it comes to stand-up comedy?
MI: I think, at this point, you’re always looking for new material, keeping your mind open for anything that strikes you during the day. My favorite time to write is at the end of the night, after you leave the comedy club. I feel like that’s when your mind is at its most creative. I really like to start with a line or a phrase that I have stuck in my head and then try to attack it from all different sides… just write and write and write, then hack it down, find the best and take it on stage, see what works, then write some more. The reality is no joke is ever done. As long as you’re telling it, you’re still writing it. Some jokes take years to get just right. But that’s what makes stand up awesome, you can always be better.
RM: You just joined the FoxSports1 team as a weekly contributor on the show “America’s Pregame”. How have you been able to use your own fandom to enhance a show that is focused on the fans themselves; as opposed to ESPN which seems to be very centered around the athletes and their lifestyles? Who are some of the pro teams that you consider yourself to be a fan of?
MI: It’s great being at FS1 because they know they’re the underdog so they’re willing to take chances and try to do things differently. They brought me in to be myself, which is a great position to be in. I am an enthusiastic fan of sports… I love the Broncos. Grew up with them and my Dad has had season tickets since the early 70s. I went to the Super Bowl which was probably my worst live sporting experience, but… it’s the Super Bowl. You have to go. I also like the Rockies… I had season tickets to the Clippers for years and finally dumped them the year before they got Blake Griffin. I’ve got great timing.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MI: After Ninja Warrior wraps, I’m got some summer comedy dates lined up and will be busy with FS1… we have some field pieces in the works that should be a blast. Other than that, always looking for the next gig and who knows what it could be?
Official Website: http://www.mattiseman.com/
Matt on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mattiseman
Matt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattiseman
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