Summary: La Crosse Tribune interviews comedian Shane Mauss about A Good Trip, his current United States comedy tour focused on reducing the stigma surrounding psychedelics. “I’m out of the closet now. It’s hard to come out of the psychedelic closet. There’s some stigma attached,” explains Mauss. “If I’m advocating for anything, it’s the support of more research into therapeutic uses.”
Originally appearing here.
Like many a comedian, Shane Mauss has worked his share of humor about alcohol and drug use into his act, mostly self-deprecating bits about dumb things he’s done while under the influence. A little over a year ago, though, when he was starting to perform a show centered largely on psychedelic drug use, he didn’t want to do that show in La Crosse, home turf for the Onalaska native.
For one thing, he didn’t want to do the show in front of his parents. But now, in the midst of a nationwide, 80-city tour of the show, he’s taking “A Good Trip” back home.
“I used to be nervous, but now I’m excited for them to see it,” Mauss said of “A Good Trip,” a show he considers to be the best work of his 12-year career. “I’m out of the closet now. It’s hard to come out of the psychedelic closet. There’s some stigma attached.”
The stigma is relatively new, considering that use of psychedelic substances goes back thousands of years. Psychedelic drug use had a surge in the 1960s, but there was a legal backlash against drugs in general and psychedelic drugs in particular. “There were a lot of problems with the ’60s movement, and there was a lot of arrogance with it: ‘Like, we’re seeing the truth, man,’” Mauss said.
There’s also a lot of misunderstanding about psychedelics, and promoting understanding has become as big a part of Mauss’ career as provoking laughs. He’s a couple years into his “Here We Are” podcast in which he interviews experts on everything from psychology and neuroscience to evolutionary biology, the nature of reality and the meanings of life.
Mauss has more than 100 “Here We Are” podcast episodes so far. “A Good Trip” is an offshoot of his intellectual explorations, part science podcast, part comedy show, part storytelling, Mauss said. It’s almost more like a TED talk than a traditional stand-up comedy routine.
“It’s a little bit more like a funny pep talk than it is traditional stand-up,” Mauss said. “It’s definitely the best, smartest show I’ve ever put together.”
Yet, he added, “It’s still a comedy show, with some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever done.”
In a way, he said, for this show the psychedelic drug theme really is more of a jumping-off point for exploring and talking about bigger ideas, and Mauss is all about looking for new chances to take a leap.
A literal leap a couple years ago resulted in him breaking both his feet and gave him a theme for his show for a while. With his recovery from his injuries almost complete, he’s not about to literally jump off anything, but he likes to take risks with his work.
“I’m a very rebellious person. I have been for a long time. … I’m a jumper. I just take big chances in life. I swing for the fences,” Mauss said. “I was nervous about this show, but I always know that’s a good indicator that that’s the right direction.”
More than 30 shows into the “A Good Trip” tour, this risk has paid off, as far as Mauss is concerned.
“It’s really becoming quite a game changer in my career and I’m hoping it’ll open the door to doing more intelligent shows,” he said, adding that it’s his most successful show to date, both in financial terms for him and in audience satisfaction. “Every day it seems to be getting bigger and more popular. … People are telling me this is one of the most thought-provoking shows they’ve ever seen.”
With this show, Mauss has made it a point to mostly perform in venues other than comedy clubs, where most people go to drink alcohol and turn off their brains and have a few laughs. If he does play a comedy club, he makes sure it’s a Monday or Tuesday and that people know what to expect from his show.
People certainly shouldn’t expect that Mauss is going to be under the influence of psychedelic drugs – or any kind of drugs – during the show.
Mauss emphasized that his show is not about pushing people to try psychedelic drugs, which are, after all, illegal. “If I’m advocating for anything, it’s the support of more research into therapeutic uses,” he said, in particular the work done by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
The overall takeaway of the show isn’t that everyone should do psychedelic drugs. Instead, it’s that everyone should chill out. Mauss wants people to realize “we’re all way too hard on ourselves, and we have a lot of negative self-talk and doubt.”