Chanty Marostica Becomes the First Trans Comic to Win SirisuXM’s Top Comic, and $25,000 Prize
“This is a huge win for the Queer and Trans community I love Comedy I love this I love you.”
To understand why winning top comic is such an accomplishment one must first consider how truly long of a process it is.
In April a comics video submission must first stand out amongst thousands. In June they are selected to perform in a showcase with other competitors from their city. In August the top 16 are subjected to a national online voting process in which every IP address can vote daily. In September the top eight are selected to compete in one final showcase in front of a panel of industry judges,1,400 people and the entire thing is broadcast live on Sirius XM. Also consider the prize: A career-defining $25,000 and spots on JFL Northwest, JFL Sydney, jfl42 and of course the largest comedy festival in the world Just for laughs Montreal.
It is a competition meant truly to test every aspect of being a comic. This year Kyle Brownrigg, Sophie Buddle, Brittney Lynseng, Myles Morrison, Alex Pavone, Nick Reynoldson, Ryan Williams and Chanty Marostica made the cut.
Backstage at the Winter Garden Theatre an hour before the show. Members of the press mingle with festival staff and competitors. The magnitude of what is at stake is not lost on anyone yet backstage feels equal parts competition and commemoration all the competitors silently realize what an accomplishment it is to make it this far and that they have a show to put on.
All the competitors are pros. Before the show, Sophie chats with her friend, collaborator and 2017’s top comic winner Gavin Matts, while Chanty paces and smiles adjusting a signature blonde pompadour while giving an interview. Brittany Lynseng and Myles Morrison laugh together. Kyle Brownrigg calmly sips water and checks his phone; Brownrigg is the only competitor this year to make the top comic finals as well as Montreal’s Homegrown showcase. Saying “I’m nervous but it’s alright I was so nervous in Montreal I really got into my own head and then everything was fine I’m just really happy to perform on such a beautiful stage.” The attention in the room shifts when Zoe Rabnett enters, she’s the director of festival talent and planning for all the Just for Laughs festivals.
The audience is hyped as well; the months-long voting process really engages the public to see their person win. As groups file into the beautiful antique elevators, names can be heard. They know who they want to see win. The Winter Garden Theatre is beautiful and distinct one of Toronto’s oldest it is meant to look like an inside Garden with fake plants adorning the ceiling and beautiful murals of clouds adorning the top of the stage and hand-painted plaster trees lining the sides
Nick Reynoldson was the first to take the stage; the order is determined by a draw. He delivered a set with the energy of a performer who was chosen to go bullet. His comedy is engaging, self-deprecating, and possesses a great deal of introspectiveness about his identity as a mixed race person while incorporating the universal themes of families and how they co-exist. Myles Morrison delivered a well-rehearsed set that candidly spoke about mental health and anxiety in an approachable humorous way. A bit about how Jesus would have navigated the parameters of the modern-day carpentry game was super well-received. Kyle Brownrigg delivered cunning social commentary with his signature misdirection and deadpan delivery. Speaking truth to the power capitalism gives white women and majorly clapping back at a talent agent who once asked him if he wanted to keep “doing the gay thing” stillness in comedy and how to use it are talents clearly mastered by Brownrigg.
Ryan Williams was certainly a performer who had a breakout moment at the top comic finals. Bounding onto the stage with a relentless energy he was blunt, hyper, agitated and distinctively hilarious he got a great deal of mileage out of his set covering everything from moving apartments on the city bus to the lasting effects of head injuries. He was audibly a crowd Favourite. Alex Pavone navigated his Canadian expat roots ( he now calls New York home) and was the only competitor to get political even though it came in the form a story about doing mushrooms on Election night. Pavone is a Showman, engaging storyteller and proud Italian this was most exemplified when a story about his uncle fighting a Canadian goose while simultaneously misidentifying it received an applause break.
Chanty Marostica is the first trans person to compete In Top comic. Coming off a week-long run at the festival with the most concise set. Although being trans is a theme throughout Chanty’s comedy that night the crowd wa taken on a comedic multi-dimensional anthropological journey of Chanty’s night out with Straight female friends. There is no one like Chanty Marostica who is fast becoming one of the most important voices in comedy today. Brittany Lyseng is incredibly likeable; her set somehow made a massive theater feel like a small bar. Equal parts conversational jokes and storytelling her ease and relatability was endearing. Lyseng’s style was an example of the unassuming observatory style Canada is known for and is definitely one to watch.
Sophie Buddle closed out the competition. As I previously stated the order was random but Buddle performed a headline-worthy set. This was Buddle’s second time in the finals and it was clear to see why. Buddle posses a style that is rooted in truthful cynicism and plays and inverts with tropes of female identity. She has a great deal of cultural relevance having the most festival appearances of any of the competitors. Buddle has a unique performance style that cannot be recreated which has already proven to be the foundation of her career.
As the judges deliberated Maria Bamford performed and won over the anxious crowd really she was the ideal person to headline a crowd this tense.
Finally a decision was announced Nick Reynoldson 3rd Sophie Buddle 2nd Then 1400 people erupted in cheers as Chanty Marostica was announced as the winner. A tearful and overwhelmed Marostica gave a thank you speech. “This is a huge win for the Queer and Trans community I love Comedy I love this I love you.”