Comedian Shane Mauss gets deep into the mind

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If YOu Go

What: Shane Mauss, with Shawn Aaron and Eric Lewis

Where: Westside Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown

When: 9 p.m. tonight

Tickets: $12 at the door

By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Shane Mauss didn’t set out to become known as the psychedelics comedian.

But now that he’s found that niche, it’s been a trip.

A Wisconsin native who now lives in Portland, Ore., Mauss has a curious mind that seems most comfortable where science and philosophy meet.

In his podcast, “Here We Are,” he interviews scientists about topics and issues that circle around the meaning of life. Or at least, why we want to know what that meaning might be.

Mind-expanding drugs are also an ongoing topic of the podcast, which morphed into Mauss’ A Good Trip tour, a show that has hit more than 100 cities since it started in 2016.

Mauss takes the stage for two hours, discussing his adventures in mind-expanding drugs, sharing what’s he’s learned and turning it into some hilarious comedy in the process.

The Good Trip Tour was filmed and made into the documentary “Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics,” which premiered last month at the Dances With Film festival in Los Angeles.

The film won the Audience Award there, and Mauss is currently seeking a distribution deal for it.

He’s headed to Pittsburgh this weekend to take part in a conference on the role of psychedelic drugs in science, medicine, policy and culture.

But before he does, Mauss will stop in Youngstown tonight for a standup show at Westside Bowl.

While the Youngstown stop is not part of the Good Trip tour, it can’t help but reflect its influence.

In a wide-ranging phone interview this week, Mauss talked about his comedy, his interest in podcasting and psychedelics, and his regular standup show, which he’ll do tonight.

“All of my standup takes fun bits from my science podcast, but i make it a joke, make it more accessible,” he said. “I try to make sure that anyone can understand what I am talking about ... the perception of how humans behave as viewed through science.”

Audience members should definitely not expect Cheech and Chong-style stoner humor. They might, however, gain some insight into their own minds. “I kind of break down the search for meaning, put it through a personal lens and talk about mental health and things that I’ve learned from my podcast that are applicable to everyone.”

If it sounds like Mauss has an academic streak in him, he does. It’s just that it’s in a field that doesn’t get a lot of formal research.

He doesn’t mind being branded the psychedelics comic, either. “It helps me stand out among comedians,” he said.

Turning his interests into comedy makes it lucrative and also provides a fountain of material.

In the dozen years that he’s been a full-time comedian, Mauss has appeared on “Conan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” multiple times and has taken part in HBO and Comedy Central specials. Not surprisingly, he’s also become a popular guest on other podcasts.

“I’ve figured out how to relate big ideas to everybody,” he said.

As much as he loves being a comedian, Mauss would like his podcast to guide his career into the future. Comedy is an unpredictable business, he said, and it’s good to have other sources of income.

“My hope is to make the podcast my main thing,” he said. “I just started monetizing it in May, and that’s something I avoided as long as I could because it was my baby, and I didn’t want to cheapen it by selling ads on it. But now I like doing it as much, if not more, than standup, so maybe I could transition to doing this as a living.”