Comedian Shane Mauss started writing jokes at age 15, around the same time he first experimented with psychedelic drugs. Today he’s mined those experiences to create his most popular show yet, “A Good Trip,” using insights both comedic and scientific to discuss the myths and merits of psychedelics like LSD, DMT and psilocybin mushrooms.
DOPE Magazine: What inspired you to devote a whole show to psychedelics?
Shane Mauss: I like doing themed shows. I’ve been using psychedelics for 20 years, so I had the material to do a whole show, but I was nervous about outing myself as a psychedelic user. Then I performed at a show in Houston with no one there except other comics, so I started doing all the psychedelic jokes I could think of, and suddenly, an hour had gone by. So I started trying the show out.
Q: Were you worried at first about balancing the comedic parts of the show with the more science-oriented parts?
A: At first it was focused on the jokes, so it was a little nerve-racking every time I would add more information. After a year-and-a-half of performing it live and getting feedback from people who like the thought-provoking information, it got easier. Sometimes fans will bring their parents because they want them to understand this stuff, and that usually works really well. I get awesome responses from people who brought their parents, and now their parents understand what their kids are into—they’re not doing crack, they’re actually trying to better themselves.
Q: Is there a typical crowd the show tends to attract?
A: It gets a predominantly intellectual crowd—a lot of people like me that aren’t your typical stoners. The stoner crowd and psychedelic crowd overlap a lot, but there aren’t as many dreadlocks in the crowd as you’d think. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started, but maybe because my science podcast [Here We Are], I get a fair amount of people who work in science. They’re definitely the most intelligent audiences I’ve ever performed for, by a long shot.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about psychedelics you try to dispel with the show?
A: So many. Some people think of all drugs as an escape, but to me they’re more an exploration of the mind rather than an escape. I think they can actually help some people’s mental well-being—and I say some because they’re not right for everybody. And the majority of bad trips are usually people expecting a party drug, but then things can get real and that panics them.
Q: How have psychedelics helped you?
A: I think they gave me a lot more empathy when I was a young Midwestern teenager, raised in a community with a lot of macho mentality and bigotry. When I started putting this show together a few years ago, I started doing psychedelics and writing about them more, and I realized a lot of the benefits came from processing the experience afterward rather than the experience itself.
Related – Comedy, Community and Cannabis Rule…
Since the age of 10, I’ve had chronic, almost daily depression, but last year I had an amazing experience taking mushrooms in a sensory deprivation tank. Then, for about two months, I was doing mushrooms once a week. Somehow my depression just went away, and it hasn’t come back since. I don’t want to encourage anyone with depression to take a whole bunch of mushrooms, but if mushrooms didn’t play a part in my recovery, I’m exceptionally confused.