In January 2006, Mauss hit the stage every night as the Comedy Studio’s monthly comic-in-residence, using that time to prepare for the Boston Comedy Festival, which had rejected him the year before. “You have to make your own breaks, it seems,” he says.
That is so especially in a scene such as Boston’s, which is overflowing with both young aspiring comics and veteran headliners who never moved away, all looking for gigs. The region remains fruitful for stand-up comedians because of its huge college-age population, providing both an ample talent pool and ready audiences; a blessing if you want steady work without having to leave your family behind for the road, a curse if you’re not an established comic with the proper veteran-headliner connections. Even after his initial brush with success in Boston, Mauss had troubles getting booked.
He clearly needed a manager, and after Aspen, he found one in The Collective’s Max Burgos, who also represents Katt Williams (HBO’s The Pimp Chronicles). He also signed with Douglas Edley of the high-powered Gersh Agency.
Edley, a Boston University grad, calls Boston “a great place for him to grow as an artist and as a comedian.” Edley is busy fielding calls from TV networks and movie studios curious about Mauss, but he insists that the comedian’s prime objective should be to write more material and to get more experience on the road.
“The important thing is not to jump too quickly, jump too high,” says Edley.The big break
Waiting backstage to greet Conan O’Brien, Mauss posed for photos with his girlfriend, fellow comedian Maggie MacDonald, Boston comedian Micah Sherman, and members of O’Brien’s band. MacDonald and Sherman seemed more excited and nervous than Mauss. Even during the commercial break before his network TV debut, Mauss felt weirdly calm. “Instead of paying attention in school, I was always focused on something like this happening,” he said.
He remained modest later that night at a viewing party in his hotel room, taking phone calls and responding to e-mails and MySpace messages. Friends joked about his weirdly unwrinkled designer duds — MacDonald had purchased his TV outfit from the Lucky store at Copley Place. They hushed one another when O’Brien introduced Mauss. Afterward, they celebrated with a Champagne-cocktail toast. And yet, after the biggest moment of his career so far, Mauss wanted to show friends another comedian’s work online. “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said, pointing to an online cartoon by Brad Neely on Super Deluxe.
Mauss says he wishes the camera had given him a full body shot for the punch line to his act “Crazy Maggie,” about his girlfriend’s premenstrual sexual openness (“I’m Crazy Maggie and I’m giving it away!”). But he really wished he could’ve plugged his home club, the Comedy Studio. Instead, O’Brien promoted Mauss’s upcoming appearance in June on Long Island — something the club wanted in exchange for booking Mauss. “I wanted to surprise Rick (Jenkins) with that,” he said. “That was my first taste of what show business is about. I was like, what?”
Even as he navigates these shocks, Mauss has big plans for the future.