Last week at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre, the finalists for the SiriusXM Top Comic at JFL42 competed for the grand prize of Canada’s funniest stand-up comedian. Along with receiving the Top Comic title, the winner would take home $25,000; guaranteed performances at four Just For Laughs Festivals: Just For Laughs Sydney (Australia), JFL42 (Toronto), JFL NorthWest (Vancouver), and Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival; as well as a spot in a Just For Laughs television special to air on a Bell Media property in the 2019/2020 broadcast season.
After a hilarious set including a part about being confused for Justin Bieber, Toronto-based comic Chanty Marostica was crowned the champion. Chanty went up against 7 other comics and ultimately won over the audience and judges votes.
We got to chat with Marostica about the six-month journey that began in the spring when 60 contestants were selected to compete at the Calgary and Toronto auditions over six nights in May. From that group, Judges selected 18 semi-finalists to participate in a Canada-wide online vote, with 8 moving forward to the finale.
Tell us a bit about where you grew up and what life was like there for you. When did you come to Toronto?
I was born and raised in Winnipeg, I love my home and my friends that I have there… but it was a rough go for me TBH. Later moving to Montreal and then on to Toronto, made me really see what a bubble I grew up in. I’m a Queer person, I’m a Trans person, my childhood was good but complicated if that makes sense? I was relentlessly bullied. I think hatred + phobia (Racism, Transphobia, Homophobia, Ableism, Islamophobia) come from pure fear and from being uneducated. One of our hugest flaws as humans is we immediately hate what we don’t understand. I was so different, and that must’ve been so jarring + confusing for the kids I grew up around. I don’t fault my bullies, I just hope they’re different now, and know that just because I was different… doesn’t mean I was wrong. I moved here 4 years ago and it immediately felt right. I am so in love with Toronto and how I can be 100% me, it’s just… how do I explain? It’s just… ������
When did standup comedy come into your life? What did it do for you?
My dad would watch different comedy shows when I was growing up, and I just lived for watching them with him. SNL, Comic Relief… Gilda Radner, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams just clicked with me. These larger than life people that weren’t just comedians, they were entertainers! Just like happiness, JOY as a person. I always knew that’s what I wanted. That if one day my presence could command happiness in a room… I’d have made it. Comedy is also the way I relate to other people, not just to break the ice, but to help people understand who and why I “am”. I also can’t stand to see people unhappy, so comedy always just made sense for me as a career path, my job is to clock in, make people happy, and then clock out… it’s a GD dream life no matter which way you look at it!!
When did you first perform?
My first performance was at a coffee shop in Winnipeg. My dear friend Cory put on a variety show, kind of a cabaret to showcase all of the amazing hilarious people in his life, “Poj and Pals” and he knew I always dreamed of being a comedian, so he asked me to prepare a 5min set… and the rest is HISTORY. I was addicted from the moment I stepped on stage, I moved to Montreal a few short months after that night, and look at me now!
Where do you draw your ideas from? How would you describe your content and style of comedy?
I’d describe my style as physical and… like me… “A LOT” lol
The general vibe I like to create and give off is fun, youthful, whimsical. Like if Peter Pan kissed you on the mouth. Wholesome but magical.
My content is ME, if it’s happening to me, you’re hearing about it on stage. I was told so much when I was coming up what my voice “should be” and what is “ok” to talk about… so I grate against that pretty hard every chance I get. I’m very queer, and very proud of that fact, so it’s part of everything I do, and comedy is just as big a part of my life as my gender and identity is, so they all kind of mash together and make up me, and then in turn, MY own unique style of comedy.
As a teenager or young adult, what would it have meant to you to see a trans comic win such a huge competition?
Oh wow. It would’ve been everything. I can’t express what it would’ve felt like to see a trans person…. literally ANYWHERE growing up…. I would’ve been able to come to so many realizations so much sooner, and I definitely wouldn’t have felt so alone and misunderstood. I don’t think anyone can truly comprehend how integral representation is. Had I seen someone like me existing, and THRIVING in mainstream, tv, radio, movies or media… anywhere. I don’t know. I can’t fathom it because it’s just happening literally TO ME right now… We are just finally getting to be SEEN, and thankfully for what we are. Peers. Equals. People. Great question. I’m all teary eyed!! Thankfully I’m in the bathroom RN, so I can still somehow make this beautiful moment… HILARIOUS.
You are now guaranteed to perform in the JFL shows around the world and on the Just For Laughs television special to air on a Bell Media property in the 2019/2020 broadcast season. This is such a big win for trans visibility. How do you feel about being the one that so many will look up to?
It’s so huge!?! I don’t know! I’ve been building up to this for quite some time. I’ve never backed down from being loud and proud on AND off stage. I’ve worked my keister off FOREVER to normalize queer voices in mainstream comedy and I literally started a Queer Comedy scene to make that happen. This just cements it all. Knowing that Canada voted, and a panel of judges decided, just means everyone else is as ready as my community is for us to all co-exist happily together and hopefully more seamlessly. If it feels bigger than me to be someone that people look up to, it’s because it is… but I can handle it. I have to, and it’s my GD pleasure to be a voice for all the beautiful people in my community. I love you ALL endlessly, and I have my community in mind in everything I do. This is a win for every single one of us in the LGBTQQI2SAA+ rainbow. With their support I can legit accomplish anything.
What are your plans now? Have anything coming out? Shows coming up?
My plans? SLEEEEP! Oh boy am I a tired pup! I think I’ll take a nap between all these interviews, amazing opportunities and brilliant feels, and when I’m all rested up, I’ll DROP MY 1ST ALBUM LIVE AT COMEDY BAR OCTOBER 27TH!!! Yeah, no rest for the wicked, I’ve got to start prepping for my big album drop! “THE CHANTY SHOW” will be available for purchase and download at the end of October! All the details can be found at comedybar.ca or on my V obnoxious social media pages (@chantymarostica)!!! Besides that.. I have a huge huge huge year coming up ahead and I’m so thankful to Sirius XM, JFL and Zoe Rabnett for helping pave the way for me and Trans visibility, and making this the best year of my life!!!
PAY IT FORWARD: Who are some other awesome Toronto comics that we should know about?
Oh boy! I run a show called “The Up + Comers” every 2nd month at the Rivoli where I feature BRAND NEW up + coming queer comedians… and we’re already at Up + Comers SEVEN (November 25th • 9PM • Rivoli)! I mentor SO MANY young queer comics, so keep your eyes on ALL MY GAYBIES!!! Brendan D’Souza, Ashley Cooper and Taylor Rivers especially are making waves in the Canadian comedy scene, so don’t let them out of your sight! I’d also love to give a shout out to Aisha Brown and Anasimone George who always push me creatively to do better and be better for myself, so I can catch up with them!!! Aisha will be more famous than anyone and Anasimone is creating an empire, so FOLLOW THEM EVERYWHERE!!!