Chanty Marostica JFL42, Toronto ON, September 20

Chanty Marostica JFL42, Toronto ON, September 20
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September 20, 2018 was a big day for Chanty Marostica. Not only was it the day they became the first transgender comedian to perform an hour-long solo set at JFL 42, it was also the day they came out as trans to their parents — which they admitted to a supportive room at the Rivoli while holding back tears.
 
As their opener, Kyle Brownrigg, said in their introduction, Marostica is both "so cool and so queer." Despite the presence of a few extremely understandable tears midway through, Marostica remained contagiously upbeat for an hour as they moved through what could otherwise have easily become a bleak set.
 
They mix tales about what it's like growing up in Winnipeg as a queer trans person with adorable impressions of their parents trying — and failing — to get their gender neutral pronouns right. Stories about their ex-girlfriend being catcalled are met by a review of possible catcalls ("hey, cargo shorts") they wished they could throw back at creepy men in revenge. Marostica jumps around stage as though none of these experiences have phased them; their humour is equal parts revelatory and silly, allowing them to boldly delve into dark places on stage without intimidating the audience.
 
Marostica also shines with a refreshing self-awareness, reflecting upon their own insecurities and critiquing the way they deal with them. About 15 minutes in, Marostica pointed toward the back of the room and gave shouts to their boyfriend, only to mock the audience for taking the bait when they turned around to see that there was no boyfriend standing there. "Have you seen me?" Marostica jokes, but then goes on to reveal that this self-deprecating joke was one they used as a crutch when coming up as a queer, gender non-conforming comic — a defence mechanism against a predominantly cis-het industry that attracts predominantly cis-het audiences. They then go on to question why they still rely upon this joke years later, and why they remain insecure despite exuding a confident exterior and being labelled a trailblazer in the Canadian comedy scene.
 
Marostica's hour is an amalgamation of bold epiphanies, high-octane impressions, and skilful storytelling — and as the first of its kind in JFL42 history, is a must-see.