Shawn’s first foray into showbiz came as a magician and circus performer, dangling by his ankles from a burning rope some fifty feet in the air while struggling to escape from a straight jacket. From those early, auspicious beginnings, Shawn migrated into stand-up comedy, performing all over the world, including guest hosting eleven times on “The Joan Rivers Show” for Fox Television. Also on Fox, Shawn became a series regular on the sketch comedy series “The Newz”, where he not only acted but also wrote and directed several short films, one of which was “My Beautiful Cigarette.” The film was an early Internet favorite, selected for the Slamdance Film Festival, and is included in the Smithsonian Institute’s retrospective of the fest.
While living in New York, Shawn continued his passion for acting studying with the legendary Uta Hagen at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He’s appeared in numerous, stage, television, and film roles, working with an eclectic range of talent from Academy Award winner Rod Steiger to John Waters, for whom Shawn originated the role of Corny Collins in the original “Hairspray.”
Eventually Shawn found his way to Los Angeles where he focused on writing, including creating the pilot “Limoscene” for the FX Network, the television series “The Outer Limits” for MGM and the MOW “Thirty Years To Life” for Paramount. Shawn also wrote and directed his debut feature film, “Dinner At Fred’s,” which was subsequently produced by George Harrison’s legendary Handmade Films and starred Parker Posey, Gil Bellows, and Christopher Lloyd. The film was an official selection of film festivals worldwide.
Shawn found his way back to Canada with the wild, cult hit “Puppets Who Kill”. Shawn produced four seasons of the series and directed twenty-nine episodes. The show went on to become an instant Canadian comedy classic, winning three Gemini Awards and fifteen nominations, a Canadian Comedy Award and eleven nominations, and a DGC award plus three nominations. The series also won the Bronze Rose at the prestigious Rose d’Or International Television Festival in Switzerland.
Today Shawn is regarded as one of Canada’s preeminent single camera directors. His talents have been tapped to establish and pilot ground breaking series in both comedy and drama including the hugely successful “Murdoch Mysteries,” HBO Canada’s “The Line,” created by George F. Walker and starring Edward Asner, Sharon Lawrence, and Linda Hamilton, HBO’s critical darlings “Less Than Kind” and “Call Me Fitz” starring Jason Priestly, and CBC’s new comedy hit, “Mr. D.”
Along the way Shawn has garnered a Gemini and Canadian Comedy Award for best direction as well as nineteen Gemini Award, Canadian Comedy Award, and Directors Guild Award nominations.
Shawn recently completed writing, directing, and producing the dramatic short film “An Insignificant Man,” selected to screen at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival and Cannes Short Film Corner, in addition to winning a Gold Remi at the Houston International Film Festival. Shawn is also producing and directing the much anticipated feature film version of “Puppets Who Kill.”