Midway through his career, comedian Shane Mauss was at a crossroads. He’d already accomplished a lot of what he’d set out to do as a comedian — he’d won awards, appeared on late-night TV and had a half-hour special on Comedy Central. What Mauss wanted more than anything, though, was to bridge his interest in science to his career in comedy.
“I was always reading science in my spare time,” Mauss says. He began sprinkling the subject into his live set. Doing so helped Mauss launch three projects for which he’s come to be better known for than perhaps anything he’d done in the past.
The first, Here We Are with Shane Mauss, is a podcast. On the show, Mauss chats with scientists on a wide range of subjects. Second, A Good Trip and Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics, is a comedy tour and documentary about Mauss’ experience with psychedelic drugs as well as current research into psychedelics and their relationship to human psychology and consciousness.
Now Mauss is touring with Stand Up Science, a half-comedy, half-panel discussion between Mauss, two scientists and another comedian. Stand Up Science stops in Eugene Thursday, Sept. 5, at Old Nick’s Pub.
“I open the show with comedy,” Mauss says, describing the show’s format. Then two local scientists step up to talk about their work before Mauss improvises a bit on what the scientists have presented, and a local comic performs. Then all four get back on stage for a question and answer session with the audience.
Appearing with Mauss in Eugene is Brice Kuhl, associate professor of psychology at the University of Oregon. Kuhl will talk about one of Mauss’ favorite subjects: memory.
“Sometimes it’s serious; sometimes it’s on the funny side,” Mauss says. “The kind of stuff that’s kind of too smart for the comedy club.”
What interests Mauss most about science is how it intersects with our everyday lives, and that’s what he wraps the show around. “How the mind works. Why we behave the way we do. The way evolution has shaped out brains.”
While America is having a strange and dangerous anti-science moment under the Trump administration, he says, there’s been one good thing about our president’s disdain for scientific inquiry: It’s been good for ticket sales.
“People are so frustrated and thirsty,” for this kind of discussion, he adds.
Following Stand Up Science will be A Good Trip, a separate ticketed stand-up show all about Mauss’ experience with psychedelic drugs.
Stand Up Science + A Good Trip is 8 pm Thursday, Sept. 5, at Old Nick’s. Stand Up Science + A Good Trip, $23 advance; Stand Up Science, $15 advance, $18 door; A Good Trip, $10 advance, $12 door; 21-plus.