Long before he became a successful touring stand-up comedian, Shane Mauss remembers growing up and having a funny, unique take on things that people around him appreciated.
“I knew that I always thought differently than a lot of people. I was kind of an introvert,” he said. “I didn’t say much around my friend group but whenever I did, I usually said the joke of the night.”
As the Wisconsin native went from writing his first jokes at age 9 to making a name for himself in Boston’s comedy scene to landing national appearances on “Conan,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and stand-up showcases on Comedy Central, his cerebral, off-kilter comedy started to get even headier as he indulged his interests in science and other scholarly topics. It was this blending of comedy and academia that eventually led to Mauss creating the themed comedy show “Stand Up Science,” which comes to Cosmic Charlie’s March 18.
While the idea for “Stand Up Science” is a recent development, the seeds of the comedy show were planted in both his stand-up and his other endeavors. Mauss’ second recorded stand-up special, 2014’s “Mating Season,” occasionally touched on elements of biology and evolutionary psychology to shed a humorous light on people’s romantic and sexual interactions. After shattering both of his heels from an accident on a hiking trip, his next stand-up special (aptly titled “My Big Break”) the following year talked about concepts like negativity bias when reflecting on his recovery.
Part of why science was seeping into his stand-up came courtesy of his weekly podcast “Here We Are,” that finds Mauss sitting down with scientists and researchers from across the globe. Over the course of more than 200 episodes since 2014, Mauss has had experts on to discuss topics ranging from conservation and physical attraction to artificial intelligence and marketing. Eventually, Mauss tried to find a way to take a modified version of these conversations out on the road.
“I’ve been doing traditional stand-up comedy for 15 years and I’m always looking to experiment and push myself to try new things,” he said. “This was just a way to explore some bigger ideas on stage.”
The concept of “Stand Up Science” is somewhat self-explanatory. It’s half stand-up, half science. The stand-up portion comes from Mauss serving as host and performing a short 12-15-minutes set along with another fellow comedian. The science comes from Mauss reaching out to a pair of local academics to come in and give a presentation in similar length on a subject in their specific field of expertise. Every show ends with a panel discussion, where audience members ask the academics questions that usually leads to answers from the academics that Mauss said “will create a new lens for people to see different aspects of the world through,” all while Mauss and the other comedian will use a “comedian eye” to find the laughs whenever they can.
Mauss said this is the first time he has ever hosted and produced a show on his own. He’s been excited by the audience reactions and interactions. He thinks it is a showcase that will prove to be enlightening and entertaining for today’s savvier comedic audiences.
“It got a better response than pretty much any show I have ever done in my entire 15-year career. And I think a lot of it is because it’s a really prime time for something like this,” he said. “This is something that ... doesn’t stop at the end of the show. Hopefully, people carry that information and some of the jokes they heard during the show with them and that gives them some interesting fodder for conversations.”
If you go: “Stand Up Science” with Shane Mauss
When: March 18, 7 p.m. door, 8 p.m. show
Tickets: $15 advance, 18 and older
Where: Cosmic Charlie’s, 105 W. Loudon Ave.