Whether it’s his science-centric podcast Here We Are or his live Stand Up Science, comedian Shane Mauss has built up a dedicated audience that digs his brand of trippy, unusually informative comedy. Luckily for Miami comedy connoseurs who enjoy gaining a little knowledge between their belly laughs, he's bringing his live Stand Up Science show to the city on Friday, January 31.
“A lot of times, people — on the surface — aren’t necessarily interested in brain science, which is funny because you think the brain would want to learn about itself,” Mauss quips to New Times.
Stand Up Science is described as 50% comedy, 50% science. Mauss invites academics to speak about groundbreaking findings in their fields and punctuates their presentations with performances from stand up comedians. However, he's stringent about making sure the protective membranes of the respective professions remain intact and don't encroach on one another.
“The peanut butter doesn’t try to be jelly, the jelly doesn’t try to be peanut butter, but they mix quite well,” Mauss says. “I don’t ask scientists to try stand up comedy for the first time. I think that would be a bad idea for a show.”
When it comes to comedians, Mauss doesn’t ask them to write science jokes as quickly as possible. However, he does want comedians to engage the audience with more cerebral material. Mauss describes the acts he’s looking for as the kind of comics who revel in “stuff that goes over the heads of a lot of comedy clubs, where you’re catering to drunk bachelor/bachelorette parties.”
Mauss is modest when describing his contribution to the “science” aspect of Stand Up Science. Despite his ability to make complicated topics more accessible to comedy fans, he truly believes he has no business interviewing such accomplished individuals.
“His interest in science is refreshing because oftentimes what you have in science, and academia in general, is that people get so siloed off from one another that they really don’t get a chance to think about other areas or connect areas to one another,” says Dr. Debra Lieberman, associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami. Liberman is slated to join Mauss's guests during his performance later this month. “He’s capable of connecting the dots and relating different topics to one another.”
Mauss is a big fan of Lieberman’s work. In addition to having hosted her as a guest on Here We Are twice, he frequently references the professor and her book on evolutionary and psychology behaviors, Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law.
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“There’s a really good example in the book [by Lieberman] that I think about all the time,” Mauss shares. “The sea squirt is this little creature in the sea that when it’s born it swims around, and it has a brain, and it uses its brain to find the right area to plant itself and once it does it settles there and it’s going to be there for life.”
But what happens to the sea squirt once it's found a place to spend the rest of its days?
“It eats its own brain because its brain is just a tool to advance itself to some sort of goal,” Mauss says. “It’s really a rather trippy, interesting idea to think about. And if that all sounds complicated that’s why I have academics on [the show] to break things down.”
Stand Up Science. 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 31, at Open Stage Club, 2325 Galiano Street Coral Gables, FL 33134 ; 305-374-2444; olympiatheater.org. Tickets cost $18 to $25 via eventbrite.com.