The US funny man talks about his big break, his first visit to Australia and Playboy Hey Shane, let’s start off by talking about how you got started in comedy? When I was around nine or 10, I was playing video games with a friend and I said something to make him laugh. He said, “You should be a stand-up comic,” and I was like, “What’s that?”. He said, “It’s someone who goes on stage and makes people laugh.” I thought that was a pretty good idea and so it kind of got planted in my head. I started watching a lot of stand-up and I really got into it. I started writing little funny things here and there. Eventually I moved to Boston and gave it a shot. It took a little while for me to get over my stage fright and everything. I was a pretty good joke writer off the start and things progressed pretty quickly for me.
Which comedians have influenced you? Not a whole lot have. There are tons of comics that I like a lot. Any time there was stand up on TV I would watch it,I didn’t care who it was. I would watch it as much as I could with as many different people.
o you feel pressure to be funny when you’re not on stage? Not really. I just try to be nice to people more than anything and I love talking with fans and everything, meeting people and just having a regular conversation. If something funny comes up, it happens, otherwise, I don’t really care too much. I just think people are happy to have someone they like talking to them more than anything.
How did it feel going from playing small places to being on The Conan O’Brien Show? Well it was pretty drastic. I was doing okay in Boston, but not enough to make a living or even come close. Then I got invited to the HBO US Comedy Festival. I barely got selected for it and I was one of the last people picked. I ended up winning an award for best stand-up comic at the festival. So that was kind of my big break. I pretty much had my pick of any agent or manager and then the Conan O’Brien bookers were there. They saw me and wanted me on the show and it all kind of happened really fast after that. I was great, I was about borderline homeless at the time and then I was still poor for a while, just scraping by even after my first Conan appearance because it takes a while. Now I’ve done all sorts of TV things.
What’s your favourite place you’ve preformed for so far? I really like the Midwest in the US, like Minneapolis had a really great club there. As far as any type of audience, I consider myself a hybrid between an alternative comic and mainstream comic. I feel like I can perform in front of almost any crowd. I definitely like crowds that have been to live shows before and have a little understanding about how jokes work. I’ve heard from everyone that Australia, particularly Sydney, is more comedy-savvy. Actually a tonne of people that have played there before got a hold of me and told me how good the trip was going to be for me. I’m really looking forward to it.
What are you most looking forward to in you first trip to Sydney? I don’t know if there is anything in particular. I’m really looking forward to performing, to be honest, it’s going to be the highlight. I’m going to travel around some and try to figure out some places to go and see some things. I haven’t looked into it too much. I’ll probably just wing it.
What’s your strangest experience so far in the comedy world? I did a show for the Playboy TV channel. I didn’t really know what to expect. I walked in and it was just like a studio with 50 naked women. It was really strange. They would take these fake phone calls from guys asking advice and then they would give them sex advice. One was, “How do I spice up my love life?” and they would say, “You should pour chocolate on her,” then the girls would pour chocolate on each other. So all that’s going on and they told me to go out in the middle and tell jokes to make the live audience laugh. They were definitely not there to see stand-up comedy and had no interest in what I had to say when there are 50 naked women around.
Shane Mauss is playing the Comedy Store Sydney from Wednesday 24 June to Saturday 4 July. Info and tix (from $10) at www.comedystore.com.au