When I was living in Massachusetts, I used to go to a lot of comedy shows. I saw a few Half Hour tapings at the Royale and was lucky enough to see Shane Mauss record his Netflix special, “Mating Season,” at the Wilbur.
I had been performing stand-up for a few years at this point and I didn’t really have a formula for my stage presence and jokes. I did a lot of one liners and told jokes about things that didn’t really happen to me. During Mauss’ set, I watched him talk about his life for an hour-and-a-half. From his childhood to present day, the Wisconsin native told stories about his life and brought light to some of the situations he found himself in, such as working at a crouton factory.
Mauss came to Denver a few months back on part of his “A Good Trip” tour, where I saw him perform at a small blackbox theater. I met Shane and talked to him before and after the show. He was one of the nicer people I’ve met, taking the time to speak with as many people as possible and continuously thanking people for coming out to the show.
What made you put a tour like this together?
I put together my show about psychedelics (now titled “A Good Trip”) because I like doing themed shows. My last two albums have had themes and I have several ideas for more shows. Basically I have files full of jokes for particular shows I want to put together and the one about psychedelics just happened to come together at this time.
Also, I had started talking more openly about psychedelics as a guest on podcasts which happened to get me a lot more attention than I would have ever realized would happen. My agent asked me about it after hearing me talk about DMT on a podcast and wanted to know more. I told her that I was sitting on this show that I wanted to do years down the line when I was a more established act. She encouraged me to start doing it right away and she lined up several small indie venues to try it out in. It went really well and so I started doing it more regularly.
How was this tour different than your others, besides the focused topic, of course?
I’ve spent the last 9 years making my living doing comedy clubs. These are mostly random audiences who don’t know who I am or what I’m into and are just out to see a random comedy show. It’s fun and challenging, but I can’t really perform an entire show about psychedelics to an unsuspecting group of people. There is a lot of stigma, lack of experience and most people would understandably have no idea what I’m talking about.
So I still do a regular, crowd pleasing club acts to make the majority of my income. But I do this psychedelic show on off-nights in clubs and small little indie venues like blackbox theaters and small music venues. I try my best to ensure that any audience member for that show is either familiar with me and/or interested in hearing an entire show about psychedelics. It’s really a very different thing. I don’t have to figure out what the crowd will laugh at. I get to go very deep into the subject matter.
My big passion is science and I have a science podcast “Here We Are”. I try to put as much science and bigger ideas into my act as I can. This show has really allowed me to take people on much more of an intellectual journey than any of my past shows.
Have you found a new audience from touring with this type of comedy?
I’m always picking up some new fans show after shows but this show seems to have people much more excited and passionate about what I’m doing. People have been incredibly engaged and supportive.
How have your seasoned fans responded to it?
My seasoned fans already know what I’m into and so far it would seem that this is their favorite show. I’m sure I’ve lost some people along the way that preferred my dick jokes more. But I can always bring the dick jokes back. There are never any shortage of those in the arsenal.
How has your family responded to it?
There have been some uncomfortable conversations. I’m from the midwest and most of my family is small-town folk who aren’t that familiar with such things. Fortunately, they just don’t really bring it up. I think when they see the finished product, they’ll understand.
Are you recording “A Good Trip?”
I’m hoping to get it turned into a special this year. In talks about it.
Did you ever think, “One day I’ll tour the country talking about my drug experiences?”
Kind of. Ya
We’re some cities more perceptive to the topics?
There are varying levels of receptivity around the country but it has much more to do with the venue and marketing than it does with geography. Even within one given city, there are often venues where this show would do very well and others where it wouldn’t.
What city responded best to this tour?
Will there be a “A Good Trip 2” tour ever or have you experienced all that you need to?
I have no ambition to be known for psychedelics. My focus is on science and getting people to think about the world in a different way. The theme has served as a nice conduit for that and I certainly love and am fascinated by psychedelics. But I have other topics I’d like to cover before I think about doing another show like this.
However, I have considered doing a Q & A sort of thing after this show or even just doing kind of like a spoken word sort of thing about my experiences. It would be nice to be able to talk through some of the ideas that I’ve had without needing to be funny x times per minute. But I’m not sure that I would ever tour with that. Maybe if I were a bigger act. I don’t know. It seems overly self-induldgent. But I do think it would be fun to do a little something after my live performance of this show after an intermission for people interested in sticking around. I’m guessing this show needs a bit more traction before I can get venues to commit to that.
Did any fans share some of their related experiences with you on this tour?
Yes. At least the ones where I have time to stick around and meet people which is usually after every show. Someone always informs me about some other drug they’ve never heard of or something like that. It’s entertaining and educational. I’m happy people are excited to share and feel comfortable doing so.
Did any more stories come about while you were on this tour?
I’m always adding material and I’m always writing. I do psychedelics once a month or so. It’s been a big source of material for this show of course. But I’ve also written material about people’s adverse reactions to me talking about this or some of the trouble I’ve had putting the show together and getting venues to take a chance on it. Once in awhile peoples’ info or weird stories after shows make me think of something.
After this tour, what’s next for you?
If people listen to my podcast, they will get a very good sense of the ideas that I’m interested in. I’m just trying to find new and interesting ways to present them within the stand-up medium.
Do you plan on doing more themed tours?
Yes. Several. But maybe I’ll get lucky and die tragically so people can just imagine that I would have without me actually having to put in the work.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming comedians?
Take in as many different ideas from people as you can but don’t take anyone’s advise as scripture. Not everything is going to work for you. Most advice is given by people who want to feel like they have a grasp on things by pretending they know what they are talking about. No one really knows what’s going.
That being said, I’ve seen many careers die in what they thought was a comfort zone. It’s a scary thing to start doing and so many people get there first five minutes together and hold onto that for dear life because it works. Who cares if it works? Five minutes will get you nowhere. The only thing you are going to do with that “tight five” you refuse to deviate from is to bore the pants off of all the new friends in the comedy community that you could have made.
I’ve tried to make sure to keep challenging myself, trying new things, taking chances, and exploring. You already took a chance by getting on stage. Why not take a few more chances? Comedy is uncertain no matter what you are doing.