Interview: Stand-up comic Shane Mauss talks about passports, time travel, and his beginnings in comedy

Posted by: Paul Little  //  February 11, 2011 @ 8:38am

Filed under: Interviews

Shane Mauss is a stand-up comedian originally from Wisconsin, who moved to Boston to get started in comedy, and recently re-located to Austin, Texas. He's had his own Comedy Central Presents, appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live, was a semi-finalist in 2010's Last Comic Standing on NBC, and last year released his debut CD, Jokes to Make My Parents Proud. He'll be making his first appearance on Conan O'Brien's new TBS show on March 9, 2011, and he's also frequently posting short one-line jokes on his Twitter (@shanecomedy) and Facebook accounts.

Shane's style is more mixed than most stand-ups. He's just as likely to throw out a clever observational one-liner as he is to spend a few minutes telling a story filled with several punchlines. He is also the very skilled at the false punchline: making it seem like he's told the full joke (which might seem more awkward than actually funny), but then hitting you with the ACTUAL punchline, putting the whole thing together. (I've read another writer try to explain this skill of Shane's, and just like him, I don't think I did Shane justice with that description. Watch the first joke he does here for an example.) He also finds a way to mix in dark and oftentimes offensive premises with surprisingly innocent deliveries, making things a lot easier to digest than most other comics talking about the same subject matter.

If you've seen or read my interviews over the last few years, you may have noticed that I (for the most part) try to talk with people who I'm already familiar with -- and often, am a big fan of. Frankly, I'd rather talk to artists whose talents I admire, plus it tends to make for a better interview if I (as the interviewer) know a bit about the person's work and their history. And with Shane Mauss, that's no different -- I've been a big fan of his for 3 and a half years now.

Normally, I will discover a stand-up comic in one of 4 ways: I'll randomly catch them doing a set on Just for Laughs, Comedy Central, or another stand-up feature show; I'll attend some sort of big live gala in town and see someone for the first time; a friend with recommend I check out a particular comedian on YouTube; or I'll see someone on one of the late night talk shows (most of which I watch regularly). And while I technically did discover Shane Mauss via the fourth scenario, there was a twist. When I attended my first-ever taping of Late Night with Conan O'Brien in New York City in the summer of 2007 (a show that had almost single-handedly inspired my comedic taste), Shane was the comedian performing on that show. Seeing that taping live was a dream come true already, but getting the bonus of seeing a new stand-up who I found crazy funny made it even better.

In my 10-minute conversation with Shane, he talked about getting started in comedy, the unique experience of doing a set on a late night talk show, passports, wasting time on Wikipedia, going back to his home state of Wisconsin for a series of gigs, and why he wasn't a fan of Dave Chappelle at the age of 8.

Thanks to Shane Mauss for taking the time to talk with me, and to the staff at Rumors Comedy Club for letting me use their stage to interview him between Friday night sets. Shane is currently doing a series of shows in Indianapolis, following by stints at clubs in Ohio, his home state of Wisconsin, and Washington. For more details on cities, dates, and venues, visit http://www.shanemauss.com/schedule.html.

Tags: Shane Mauss, stand-up, comedy, interview, Comedy Central, time travel, Wisconsin

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Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)

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