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This article was published 20/10/2018 (360 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Fourteen-plus years of the comedy grind has led to a big payoff for Chanty Marostica.
The former Winnipegger was named the 2018 SiriusXM Canada’s Top Comic last month, an award that secures slots at Just For Laughs events in Sydney, Australia, Toronto, Vancouver and JFL’s flagship festival in Montreal.
Marostica — the first transgender comedian to win the prize — will also appear on an upcoming Just For Laughs television special to be broadcast during the 2019-20 season and received a big $25,000 cheque at the final gala at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre.
The SiriusXM contest began with hundreds of comedians submitting short videos of their performances. Those entrants were whittled down to 60 contestants who auditioned before judges in May. The judging panel then decided on 18 semifinalists to take part in a countrywide vote. The top eight made the final on Sept. 27.
"I’ve been working really hard and just Canada noticed and all my hard work has paid off," Marostica says in a telephone interview.
Doing standup in Canadian cities is old hat for the performer, but travelling Down Under for the Sydney festival will be new comedic ground.
"I’ve never been to Australia before and I have a couple of close friends that live there," Marostica says. "When my mom found out that was part of the prize, she was like, ‘No pressure to win, do your best, but I really want to go to Sydney.’
"I’m really stoked to get to Australia and talk to a whole new audience of people."
Marostica already had a completed video ready to submit, and said there was no difficulty in coming up with the first six-minute audition for the judges and the eight-minute stint in the final, which was headlined by American standup Maria Bamford.
"I just have so much material. The winners and runners-up get huge festival stops who would need to fill an hour or more, so anybody who would win would already have a full arsenal of jokes," Marostica says.
The comedian started to build up that arsenal at countless Winnipeg nightclubs and open-mic events. After developing a devoted audience, Marostica began producing live comedy shows with slates of comedians at venues such as the Park Theatre. That experience, coupled with a move to Toronto, led to the creation and production of Queer and Present Danger, an LGBTTQ* touring comedy showcase; QAPD, the first LGBTTQ* open mic; and the Toronto showcase Church Street Comedy.
"Since I lived in Winnipeg, I’ve come out as trans, so my comedy has evolved with my ever-changing life," says Marostica, who had identified as non-binary — neither masculine nor feminine — prior to this year. "I’ve always been a proud-and-loud queer comic and ally for female and queer comedians and marginalized comics. I just had to evolve my jokes and my set to how my life’s been shifting."
Marostica — who uses the gender-neutral pronoun "they" — meets with physicians next month to find out when the next step in transition surgery will take place. That means the anxious combination of waiting and future expectations must continue for a bit longer.
"I just have to work around it. It’s going to be in 2019," Marostica says of the surgery, which could keep the 34-year-old from performing for about five weeks.
"Hopefully they’ll have an opening that fits in perfectly."
Marostica has a corporate gig in Winnipeg in April, but is always on the lookout for the next show.
"If Rumor’s or the Winnipeg Comedy Festival wants to see me, they should just give me a ring."
Arts and Life Editor
Alan Small was named the editor of the Free Press Arts and Life section in January 2013 after almost 15 years at the paper in a variety of editing roles.