Published Jun 01, 2015Shane Mauss is brilliant. His new stand-up album — his third since his 2010 debut — is called My Big Break. The title is a reference to shattering both his feet in a hiking accident, an episode that serves to bind all his material together.
To make a short story shorter — Mauss uses his crippling experience as a reference or crucible for other material rather than a story for its own sake — Mauss broke both his heels trying to leap from a height of roughly ten feet. He then crawled down a mountain for three hours in order to spend a great deal of time in hospitals. He spent three months recovering in his parents' basement, where he seems to have come up with most of the material featured on this record.
Not being one to play the pity card, Mauss chalks his painful experience — and that of 127 Hours author Aron Ralston — up to "dumb shit white people do." He uses the experience as an opportunity to explore the evolutionary adaptations of the human brain (admittedly, this doesn't sound like prima facie comedy gold). Mauss's ability to make the evolution of human brains comical is exactly where his peculiar brand of funny comes from.
My Big Break examines the inhospitable world humans have built for themselves with brains dependant on negativity for survival and wraps it up into one big, neatly packaged humdinger. That Mauss is able to accomplish this without being a "total bummer" by any stretch is an achievement not to be downplayed — though Mauss certainly would. Mauss would downplay the President of the United States wrestling three depressed toddlers and a confused pensioner for kicks if he thought it'd get a laugh.
Those who prefer their comedy a little more crass need not worry, Mauss brings his fair share of road rage and dick jokes to the stage as well, but they are largely peripheral afterthoughts.
His delivery lands somewhere between a bumbling Stuart Maclean and an empirically occupied Jim Gaffigan. He's well-read without being assuming, at times crass but never dumb, lulling without being dull.
My Big Break combines a healthy pessimism towards the human condition with a lethargic attitude towards adversity and misfortune. It makes for a hilarious, multi-faceted experience, capable of sustaining multiple listens. His jokes have a depth, context and sense of narrative that makes just about everything he says loaded, funny and provoking. (Comedy Dynamics)