Standup comedian Shane Mauss’ Friday show at the Fledge, “A Good Trip,” a 90-minute performance centered around psychedelic drugs, combines the sensibilities of his regular routine and those of a scientific TED Talk. The show harkens back to a philosophy shared by the legendarily sardonic comic Bill Hicks.
“How about a positive LSD story? Wouldn’t that be newsworthy, just the once? To base your decision on information, rather than scare tactics and superstition and lies? I think it would be newsworthy,” Hicks pined to his audience.
Hicks, who lamented many things about American society before his death, had a particular fondness for shattering the social stigmas surrounding drugs.
Mauss, 38, continues that legacy with equivalent wit. He avoids simply harping on about how much he likes to ingest LSD, instead reflecting on personal experiences and explaining what he views as the underreported positive aspects of psychedelics.
“It’s tons of fun for me to perform, and the audience is really not there by accident. Everyone knows that it’s a show about psychedelics.” Mauss said. “But what’s different about my show, is I have way more information and insight than your typical standup comedy act.”
Mauss’ “Good Trip” takes the audience through a rough history of LSD — chemical name: Lysergic acid diethylamide — providing a timeline starting with the use of hallucinogenic drugs in traditional cultures, up until the full-bore drug war levied by the Richard Nixon administration.
His primary concern is the apparent lack of research that goes into a drug like LSD, because of its Schedule I designation.
“There are great organizations doing it, but there’s a great deal of hoops they have to jump through. It’s actually easier to test cocaine, which is a Schedule II drug,” Mauss said.
Midway through his comedy career, Mauss decided to take his material down deeper paths than standard gross-out humor. He credits early opportunities and exposure for giving him the freedom to explore niche topics.
“I’ve shifted my focus to talk about things that are more meaningful to me. I was really fortunate that I caught all the breaks in my 20s to make my career anything that I wanted to be,” Mauss said.
Mauss’ “A Good Trip” continues a tradition laid by his “Mating Season” special, which looked at animal mating patterns, and “Big Break,” a feature where Mauss explored the psychological aspects of painful sensations.
The decision to mix comedy with science has been rewarding. According to Mauss, nothing has really resonated with his audience as much as the “Good Trip” performance series.
“I’ve been on ‘Conan’ a bunch of times; Comedy Central, Netflix and I’ve had all these great opportunities in my career, but the way people connected to this show was unlike anything I’d ever experienced,” Mauss said. “That’s why it blew up into a 111-city tour.”
For Mauss, his first experience with LSD was a life-changing experience that steered him off the course of becoming an “adult douchebag.”
“After my psychedelic experiences, I’ve really taken an interest in nature and how life works; why we behave the way we do and how the inner workings of our mind operate,” Mauss said.
Mauss explores these topics further on his podcast “Here We Are.”
“I’ve interviewed about 200 scientists, and I don’t think I would have a science podcast, had it not been for psychedelics creating that interest in the mind for me.”
“Good Trip” Friday, Oct. 19
$20 7 p.m. The Fledge 1300 Eureka St., Lansing (989) 413-0640 www.facebook.com/ thefledge