Live Your Dream or Die Trying: Cinequest 21 World Premiere of “Dying to do Letterman.”


March 4, 2011. San Jose, CA.

Persistent, determined and goal-driven: these are the three words that perfectly describe comedian, Steve Mazan, whose film “Dying to do Letterman” had its world premiere at Cinequest 21 on Friday, March 4, 2011, at the Camera 12 Theater in downtown San Jose.

As a kid growing up in Chicago, Steve never considered becoming a stand-up comedian. That is, not until his12-year-old self saw David Letterman on the Late Show in 1982. Ever since seeing Letterman perform his comedy routine, Steve had one dream and one dream only—to perform stand-up comedy on The David Letterman Show. However, as Steve would soon find out–upon starting his quest of fulfilling his dream–it would be no small feat to prevail over.

Comedian, Steve Mazan, his wife Denise, and the filmmakers, Joke and Biagio.

Not only did Steve have the challenge of winning over the executives and having them pick him to perform on the show over hundreds of aspiring comics, but when he began his journey to make his way to New York City and on the Late Show studio, Steve also received a life-threatening diagnosis–he discovered that he had liver cancer. For most, this news would make anyone give up on their future and on their dreams, but instead, this news made Steve more determined to live his dream or die trying.

As Steve anxiously waited to receive the news that would change his life forever, his attempts to realize his dream began to seem futile. Numerous attempts to get Late Show executives to recognize his comedic talent and to book him on the show were not promising. However, even when he finally received a letter from the show’s executive producer stating that it would be impossible for them to book him on the show, that made Steve more determined to hone in on his comedy, make it better, and rise up to the challenge of making the impossible become possible.

As Steve stated, “I wanted to be invited to perform on the show because of my comedic talent and not because I was living with cancer.” And he was going to prove his worth as a professional comedian one way or another.

Steve poses for a photo with his proud mother.

Needless to say, after much angst and persistence, his quest to live out his dream became reality. And in doing so, Steve has inspired others living with cancer and those without, to never give up on their dreams no matter how distant and impossible they may seem.

More than just a documentary about overcoming the challenges associated with having a horrible disease, “Dying to do Letterman” is a truly poignant and inspirational tale about pursuing one’s dreams no matter what the odds.

For more information about the film and about Steve, please visit:

Film Review and Photos by Sophia M. Papadopoulos

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