Like you may expect of an English professor, ShaunAnne Tangney’s home has walls lined with books and is equipped with more than one writing space.
She spent 20 years in the classroom at Minot State. You might say she was destined to teach the thousands of students she had over the years.
“I loved words and I loved what words did to me, how they made me feel, how being read to by my mom or reading on my own,” Tangney said. “I just loved the power of words.”
The job at MSU is what brought her from northern California to North Dakota.
What she didn’t know at that time were the many ventures she’d take on afterward.
“I’m a writer, a full-time writer now, and honestly busier than I was as a professor,” she said.
Shortly after retirement, Tangney brought essay ideas to the owner of The Good Talk Network, a local entertainment production company, which then led to her very own podcast that aired for one and a half seasons and is currently on hold.
Then came Good Night Live, a late-night comedy talk show in Minot.
That was when the owner turned to her.
He said, “There’s a couple of guys in town and we’re thinking about doing a late-night talk show,” ShaunAnne recalled. [He said] “‘Are you funny? Can you write comedy?’ In my head, I was like I don’t know, but I sure want to try so I said sure I can do that!”
For about two years now, Good Night Live has been producing and hosting a live show every six to eight weeks. The next is on Dec. 2.
“Never in a million years would I think that my business card would now say lead writer and associate producer…no, never,” said Tangney.
So far, all but one show has sold out.
“There are a few key people in my life, especially through the course of The Good Talk Network who has been a major catalyst for an upward trajectory and I would put ShaunAnne’s name foremost among those,” said Jonah Lantto, owner of The Good Talk Network and executive producer of Good Night Live.
Tangney’s new projects came at a great time.
She says she did a lot of writing as a professor, but she’d longed for the official title of writer and her work now translates almost seamlessly from her past profession.
“A joke and a poem turn out to be very similar,” she explained. “My definition of a poem that I’d give to students is achieving maximum impact with a minimum number of words…well so is a joke.”
She says in order to write, though, she needs a deadline and an audience and a live show gives her exactly that. Plus, there are some other perks.
“It feels like this beautiful gift, in a way, that you share with the audience to bring laughter to somebody,” she said.
And it doesn’t end there. She also writes for Midwest Murder, a true-crime podcast, and recently made an essay and commentary deal with Prairie Public, which will begin airing at the end of this month.
ShaunAnne Tangney — writer, producer, podcaster, professor and more — is Someone You Should Know
She’s a part of many projects already but says there are still more to come.