Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
BYU degree: Psychology
LDS mission: Chicago
Family status: Single
Ironically, Matt got serious about comedy because of soccer. He broke his leg playing mid-fielder in a 2006 intramural soccer game at BYU and elected not to take classes that summer while he was on the mend.
“I was sitting there thinking about acting I had done in the past,” Matt says. “It lifted my spirits, and I decided to change course and start acting again.”
Now Matt is known as the lead actor, head writer and resident “grandpa” (he’s the oldest at 31) for Studio C, which he created along with producer Jared Shores. His latest claim to fame is as script writer and bloody star of the Scott Sterling sketch.
“I named this character Scott after a good friend I’ve done comedy with,” Matt says. “My own name is alliterate, which I like, so I decided to do the same for Scott and add a second ‘S’ with ‘Sterling.’”
Known best as the Shoulder Angel, this 130-pound comedic heavyweight has always been strong at pull-ups, and now he also throws in a little P90X and yoga to stay fit for his white-spandex role. Matt has taught himself to balance on the shoulder in such a way that his weight is distributed properly without requiring back surgery for his castmate.
“The first time I presented the Shoulder Angel sketch in Divine Comedy, I said, ‘This works in my mind. Let’s see if we can make it work on stage,’” he says.
Matt’s most difficult winged-climb to date was Shawn Bradley.
“I climbed up him, and then I went halfway down. The second climb back up was exhausting,” he says.
Matt’s penchant for costumes and voice inflections started in elementary school, where he remembers being overwhelmed by having to memorize four minutes of material and being burdened with a perennial second-place ribbon.
“I loved being in front of an audience back then, but life gets in the way and makes you think your dreams are stupid — until you break your leg and come back around and realize what’s important to you,” he says.
With a healing leg and newfound confidence thanks to his LDS mission in Chicago, Matt landed a spot on Divine Comedy, along with his sister, Lauren Meese.
For his day job, Matt worked at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum all through college and got a staff job after he graduated.
“Staying at the museum made a lot of people worry I wasn’t moving on with my life,” Matt says. “But if I hadn’t stayed in Provo, there wouldn’t be a Studio C. I was in the right place, but it wasn’t the right time yet.” Matt high-fives this life lesson of trusting instincts.
“There was no way of knowing what was going to happen because I stayed,” he said. “I didn’t have to know. I just had to know enough.”
When he transitioned to working full time for Studio C, Matt took with him random animal facts such as: If you eat a polar bear liver, you will die because they are so rich in Vitamin A. (Random magazine fact: A Bean Museum specimen is in the “Awkward Family Photo” on page 25.)
“Studio C is my dream job,” Matt says. “I love what the show does for families, and I love working with these people.”
Sports resume: Football, soccer, track, hurdles and pole vault. “Vaulting is the dumbest fun you can have,” Matt says. His senior year he did a play and set sports aside.
Life coaches: “My dad taught me public speaking skills like projection. He’s still a huge influence. You have to be grateful for people who see more in you than you see in yourself. Eventually, their belief in you sticks and your belief in yourself starts to grow.”
Big wins: His senior year of high school, Matt and a friend joined the speech team right before the state tournament and took first in the competition. “When you have nothing to lose, it’s easy.”
Biggest loss: Matt’s grandpa was his “biggest fan” and would tell others, “You’re going to know my grandson one day.” He died before Studio C. “But I have a strong feeling he’s still proud of me,” Matt says.
Little known, little angel facts: The first Shoulder Angel episodes for Studio C have Matt wearing white robes. “The idea lost some of its zest because you can’t see the struggle or the weird way I move.” Now the angel wears a form-fitting white little ditty. But it’s not the least comfortable costume — that distinction goes to Captain Literally.
Big roles: Matt played “Mitch” in the two-man showing of “Tuesdays with Morrie” at BYU. He also starred in “Saints and Soldiers: The Void,” his first feature film.
Favorite sketches: “I like ‘Dana’s Dead’ because we see Adam get sprayed in the face so many times. I also like ones I’m not in because I have no idea how they went until I see the finished product. They have more replay value for me because I didn’t spend all day filming it.”
First job: Paper boy in Phoenix
Fans: “The whole cast started in this together, so we talk about how weird it is to be somewhat well-known. When Jason’s wife was in labor, somebody asked to take a picture with him. Our studio audience is only 200, so that’s all the people we actually see. But when we go about our lives, we realize the breadth of who is watching the show. If we go out as a group, we’re toast.”
Matt is probably best known for his work with Divine Comedy, BYU’s premiere sketch comedy troupe. It was there that he met fellow Studio C cast members Jason Gray, Mallory Everton, and Whitney Call. The four became fast friends, and began writing sketches together. When the time came to assemble a writing/performing team for Studio C, Matt was an obvious choice.
Born in New Jersey, and raised in Phoenix, Matt graduated from BYU with a B.S. in Psychology. Given the vast amount of time he spent writing and performing, however, he feels that what he really studied in college was sketch comedy. Greatest achievement to date: having a proud mother.
He is roommates with Dave Vance (who wrote the Hunger Games Parody sketches), Mike Dalton, and fellow cast members Adam Berg and Stacey Harkey.
About Me: I’m very fond of the Beatles, peanut butter and movie previews. If I had three wishes I would undoubtedly use one to obtain an elephant. The other two would probably be wasted on a whim, like a bag of Doritos and a Jamba Juice.