Shane Mauss has attained the career milestones many comedians only ever aspire to accomplish. Mauss has made appearances on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel and Comedy Central, won the title of Best Standup Comic at HBO’s Comedy Arts Festival and has his own hour-long special, Mating Season.
The natural progression of other comedians with this much success would be to keep following the same path and create material that panders to the largest number of people. Mauss had a different idea. He wanted to get people interested in science.
Over the last several years, Mauss created three different themed shows in an effort to move away from Saturday date night comedy, where “people just want to hear sex jokes and jokes about drinking,” he says. His themed show on psychedelics took off and “I kind of became known as the psychedelic guy, but that was never the point. I was just trying to find different angles of getting people interested in science.”
Based off his experience in themed shows, Mauss created his brainchild, Stand Up Science. Mauss has toured the Stand Up Science show around the country over the past year. The show is reminiscent of a Ted Talk, infused with Mauss’s witty remarks and brainy jokes on two local scientists’ presentations about their most interesting research. The show ends in a Q&A so the audience can ask the guests their own questions.
“There’s an educated group of people who are really underserved entertainment-wise," he says. "This show is for them.”
Stand Up Science is completely different in every city he tours in because Mauss improvises based on his guest speakers. He researches local universities and their professors to find any new research that has surfaced or remarkable scientists who have recently given presentations, then invites them to join him on stage.
“This show is the most outside of my comfort zone I have been in my whole career because every show is so unpredictable, while the rest of my career is very predictable,” says Mauss. In his other work as a road headliner, he knew exactly what jokes he was going to say and generally what the reaction would be. “I may alter some things here and there, but ultimately it’s the same every night. The trick with those shows is not getting bored, which I have no problem with in Stand Up Science.”
In the Sarasota show on Jan. 28, Dr. Katheleen Casto and Dr. Tracey Fanara will be presenting their research. Dr. Casto is an assistant professor of biopsychology and neuroscience at New College of Florida. Her research, featured in two New York Times best-selling books, focuses on hormones and how they affect elite female athletes competitive and cooperative behaviors, as well as how hormones affect those behaviors in everyday people working together in teams.
Dr. Fanara manages a research program at Mote Marine Laboratory, where she designs and develops technology that protects wildlife and water quality. Dr. Fanara has created a website and three apps for environmental data reporting that have over 1.5 million users. She has been featured on two Science Channel shows, Fox's Awesome Planet, ABC's Animal Outtakes and more.
Stand Up Science typically brings out engaged and intelligent individuals and gathers them all in one spot. “If someone were to take anything away from my show, I think it’d be hope,” says Mauss. It is quite inspiring that a comedy show could bring a group of engaged people with a similar hunger for knowledge together for a few hours to learn about new topics and laugh together.
Mauss is well versed in science, a self-educated man who developed an interest in science as an adult when he began writing jokes about human behavior. In the show he talks fluently about the subject matter, asks fun questions, improvises and jokes about things that would never work in a typical comedy show. “Stand Up Science is the most interesting show I’ve done in my career," he says. "These shows are really me creating a stage that’s like a playground for me.”
Shane Mauss will be performing Jan. 28 at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.