Shane Mauss is one of the funniest comedians that I’ve watched perform. His quick wit and mannerisms make him very unique in a world of copies. Born in Wisconsin, he moved to Boston in 2004 and within five years has been a featured guest three times on “Late Night With Conan O’Brian”, has performed on Comedy Central, Showtime, BBC, Playboy, Bob & Tom radio show, XM & Sirius Radio and more. He has also toured the country opening for comedians like Harland Williams, Pauly Shore and others as well as headlining shows himself. Shane sat down after opening up for Joel McHale the host of E’s “The Soup” at the Taft Theater in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio to talk about what happens when things don’t always go as planned…playing with the minds of his audiences and his controversial sex tape!
(Editor’s note; before reading the interview, visit www.myspace.com/shanecomedy...watch his videos to understand his mannerisms and then come back and read the interview.)
The Entertainment Nexus- How have you been?
Shane Mauss- I’ve been wonderful, I’ve been busy as possible with travelin a lot and stuff. Things have been good. I’ve been all over the place. It’s been great!
TEN- Who were some of your influences growing up?
SM- I really didn’t get into all of the “classic guys” until like I’d already started comedy. I knew Stephen Wright and Bill Cosby a little bit. Now I love those guys. Growin up I was just a huge Comedy Central guy and watched like every bit of stand up that I could find on T.V. It was mostly “modern guys” like I was huge into Dave Attell and still am.
TEN- Today is his birthday.
SM- Oh yeah? Well “Happy Birthday Dave if you can hear me!” (Laughs) I got to meet him a couple of times now in New York. He’s a cool guy.
TEN- I bet he would be fun to hang out with!
SM- Yeah! I don’t know… I like so many people. I like Emo Phillips and Jim Gaffigan…Brian Regan…way too many to name. George Carlin is a big one of course.
TEN- Were you the “class clown” in school?
SM- In some classes I was but mostly I was very quiet and stuff. There were certain classes that I was definitely for whatever reason I’d feel comfortable. I was always bad socially with people and very soft spoken…except around my friends. There were certain classes where I was a bit of a smart ass.
TEN- How do you get the nerve to stand up in front of thousands of people a year?
SM- It took a long time. When I first started, it was terrible. I was like “I’ll just go up there and I’ll do stand up.” I was nervous about it and everything but I was like “I’ll be old to it!” My first couple of times I was like “What am I doing right now? I can’t do this. It’s the worst feeling of my life!” I just wanted to run and I had to force myself to get out there and it took a long time of bombing until I finally got some things together and started doin all right.
TEN- Within five years after moving to Boston, you’re all over television and radio outlets. Did you have a game plan or was it pure dumb luck?
SM- I always thought that I was gonna do well as a stand up but I don’t know why I thought that. Looking back, it’s such a diluted thing. That’s what every comic kinda thinks. I remember back reading “self help” books when I was working in a factory and all that. I remember having a “five year plan” that was basically; “Get on T.V. in five years or otherwise quit!” I did my first Conan less than three years in. Once I got started I was like “Whoa, those goals are a little steep” because I realized it wasn’t quite as feasible. But, I ended up surpassing what I thought was going to happen so it worked out very nicely.
TEN- How did you feel when you won the award for “Best Stand Up” at the 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival?
SM- That was great! That was a big festival in Aspen and it was like the best week of my life. They took care of us and there were parties every night. It was crazy! I didn’t know that they gave out awards, I was just there doing my thing and I knew the shows were doing really well and getting a great response. It was awesome, I won the award and the Conan people saw me and wanted me and all of the representation that I got out of it was awesome. I got like the best manager and agent in the business and stuff so it’s been really great.
TEN- Not everybody gets to be on “Late Night With Conan O’Brian.” What was it like being on the show for the first time?
SM- It was great! It all happened very fast. Looking back at it, it’s crazy that all that stuff happened to me. At the time, I handled it really well because I was stupid. It was like I almost expected these things to fall in my lap and then they just sorta did. I went about it all a very odd way. I guess it was a “dumb kinda confidence” that I had. The Conan people saw me in Aspen and later I was on a bus pulling into New York and my agent called and said that “The Conan people wanted me on the show.” So I called them and they wanted to know what material I wanted to do and if I could email it to them. I told them that I was in New York and not by my computer. They were like; “Why don’t you just do your routine for us over the phone?” So with no preparation, I was just in the streets of NY doin my stand up routine over the phone to two people…which was strange. They were like; “Alight, you’re on next week!” It happened so fast I could hardly even think about it really.
TEN- You always hear how Jay Leno treats his guests really well. What is Conan like in person?
SM- Yeah, Conan’s a hell of a nice guy! I know him a little better now being on three times. He’s such a busy guy but he’s so good at making people feel comfortable and everything. He kinda carries the conversation very well. Obviously…it’s his job. I remember my second time on the show and I had made some 8x10 photos of him and me and brought them in for him to sign. I was like; “Oh yeah…sign these for me.” He came back stage and sat back stage and chatted with me and some friends for like a half hour or so. I was like; “Oh wow, Conan O’Brian’s sittin here talkin to me and all my friends.”
TEN- Kind of like in “Wayne’s World” with Alice Cooper…
SM- Yeah. It was kinda weird.
TEN- You were just on the “Bob & Tom” show the other night and you had everyone in the studio laughing even after following other comedians.
SM- They laugh a lot. It wasn’t just me. (Laughs)
TEN- When you do a show like that, do you go in with certain material to do or do you just wing it?
SM- Both. They ask you to have some stuff prepared like lead in questions to some of your material. So, it’s like half of that and half just shootin the shit kind of a thing. It’s a lot of fun and very relaxed. There’s always a little bit of a lull. You can hit them with a solid joke or whatever. It’s very cool.
TEN- They asked you if you had ever had a “hell gig” and you told them about arriving in a Hyundai in Detroit where the “Big Three” are. Do you have any other “hell gigs” that you can share?
SM- Yeah, I’ve had much worse things than that. I was in a pretty big club in Chicopee, Mass. which is in the center of Mass. I’ve been there a few times and the audience is just awful…always. They’re really dumb…dumb people like I’ve never seen anywhere else in the country. And I’ve been all over the place! I don’t know what it is, they’re just so stupid. So any way, this particular time I was opening for Pauly Shore who also draws about the worst kind of people possible because it’s all just people there to see some weird relic from the eighties that isn’t relevant. They’re there to laugh at him more than anything and they’re a rowdier bunch too. There was a wrong time printed on the ticket so people showed up two hours early and they were really upset. They got there two hours early but still stayed there and drank tons and tons so by the time it was show time, there were about six hundred of the drunkest people that you’d ever seen. There was a guy in a booth introducing the show saying; “How about a hand for Pauly Shore coming up tonight?” and the crowd was like “About time! The announcer was like; “We have another great opening act coming out here.” The audience were booing and cursing before I was even on stage! I walked out to six hundred drunks and I sat on stage for five minutes not saying a word. I sat there and smiled and let them curse at me. I had to do a half hour show. It wasn’t fun. I kinda won some of them over a little but it was a lot of work. That was challenging. I actually have it recorded somewhere.
TEN- One of my favorite jokes of yours is the “Child Molester On Board” bumper sticker invention. Not because it ends up being funny, but because of the way the audience reacts to you at first and then swing completely the other way when you explain it to them. Has that joke ever not received that kind of reaction?
SM- It’s always fun to build tension in the crowd and then have something to release it. So, that’s all that joke is based off of is just thinking about the worst idea that you could have and then flipping it around in a way to make sense.
TEN- I’ve been in the audience before and watched the videos on your Myspace and you can feel their reactions.
SM- Yeah, they get very nervous. I use that quite a bit in my act. I try to make the audience very uncomfortable and then I do some things to kinda make it right. Everyone kinda feels okay about it. (Laughs) I wish I had more jokes like that. I really like that style.
TEN- The President has always been a source for material with comedians. Do you think that once president-elect Obama gets in to office, people will shy away from him for fear of being called “racist?”
SM- No, I just think it’s gonna be harder at first because everyone’s so excited. I don’t even think it’s so much a “race thing” everyone’s pulling together for him which, is kinda what happens at the end of any Presidency anyways. It’s like “Oh thank God that’s over…let’s get another one. It’s gonna be perfect this time!”
I mean the Dixie Chicks got in all sorts of trouble for making fun of Bush early on. It’s very easy to make fun of politicians regardless of anything. I think there will be plenty of material.
TEN- Tell me something disturbing about yourself that you’ve never revealed before.
SM- I might be using it in some interviews I'm doing with Comedy Central but you will be the first. I once video taped sex but I got too excited and it lasted for literally 15 seconds. So I had the most pathetic sex tape of all time. I erased it!
TEN- What’s next for Shane Mauss?
SM- I don’t wanna get too ahead of myself and say “I’ve kinda got this and that this year” but I feel like I’ll probably have some specials and things coming up soon. I should be doing a dvd and a cd in not too long and getting some more “talk show” type appearances at some point. I can’t really say any specifics or any dates right now. Everything’s goin very well and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna slow down at all for me yet.
TEN- Is there anything that you want to add or say?
SM- No, I’m terrible about adding things. I can’t think without the help of things to think about. If someone was like “Hey think about this and tell me about it” then I could do it but off the top of my head no…just meeerp, nothing.
I want to thank Taft Theater staff member Tracy Lierman for being so helpful and Shane for hanging out and taking the time to talk and especially for the “Muppet Seats” for the show.
For more information on Shane including tour dates, please visit www.myspace.com/shanecomedy and the “Artists” links section.