Published Nov 30, 2017We decided to give you some early Xmas gifts in the form of three amazing comedians. We accidentally set your gift receipts on fire so it's a good thing you're gonna love these people!
Canada's only exclusive stand-up and sketch comedy label, Comedy Records, has teamed up with Exclaim! to launch the Comedy Records Showcase, which takes place on the first Thursday of every month at Wenona Lodge (1069 Bloor St. W) in Toronto. Show times are at 9 pm sharp.
Our December 7 edition features Andrew Barr, Ana-Marija Stojic and Chantel Marostica, so we asked each of them to tell us more about themselves. Oh, the things we learned!
Andrew Barr grew up in a couple different small towns bordering Sarnia, Corunna and Sombra, ON and currently calls Toronto home.
"Comedy was around the house a lot growing up," he says. "My parents are funny people and thankfully I didn't live in one of those weird households where kids weren't allowed to watch The Simpsons. My dad, especially, shared a lot of his favourite humour from when he was younger with me and my brother — Fawlty Towers, Three Stooges, Caddyshack, The Blues Brothers — all the classics.
"As a performer, comedy started for me in high school. A friend of mine convinced me to join the improv team. I'd always enjoyed trying to make people laugh, but that was the start of me doing so on stage. Later I attended Humber College and took their Comedy Writing and Performance course. It was there that I learned my love for standup and since then, that's been my main focus."
Barr says that his small hometown didn't have a profound impact on his comedy and he's hesitant to pinpoint any one influence on his own approach.
"'How do I approach standup?' has always been a weird question to me," Barr explains. "The only answer I can ever think of is, 'I stand there and talk about the things I think are funny and then I hope that other people also find them funny.'
"I wouldn't know how else to approach it. Subject-wise, I try to cast a pretty wide net and never pointedly avoid a subject. Too much of the same thing is boring — sometimes even pandering. I want to do clean, dirty, political, anecdotal, dark, silly clever and dumb all in one set. Maybe even toss a couple puns in there. Fuck it."
You can also catch Barr at the Vaughan Yuk Yuks from January 29 to 31; his debut comedy album, Rent Money, will be out in early 2018. He also runs a monthly show at Comedy Bar on the first Monday of every month called "Guts For Laughs," where he says he and "a panel of other professional comics screen old horror movies and roast them in front of a live audience."
Ana-Marija Stojic was born in a small town in Croatia and was raised in the big city of Toronto.
"I first got into comedy when a friend of mine gave me an audio recording of George Carlin on CD, and I listened to it over and over again on my home computer in the basement of the house," Stojic recalls. "As a performer, it was when I first realized that comedy was a thing I could actually do. I didn't realize it was a thing people could make. I thought comedy kind of just appeared, like food trucks when you're drunk."
Stojic's strong material includes some discussion of her family ties to Croatia but, when asked if there's any one thing about Toronto that has shaped her work, she, with emphatic vagueness, exclaims, "Everything probably!"
"I can't imagine life happening any other way and me still being where I am," she adds. "This has as much to do with my perception, as it does with my upbringing probably. I am from an immigrant family, from two generations of war, instability and then stability, and a lot of cartoons."
Stojic says that if something topical is occurring in the world that everyone is discussing but she finds it boring, she doesn't bother exploring it for comedic fodder.
"And then sometimes I cave because I think, 'I should be more political' or 'I should talk about my identity' or 'Why haven't I written anything about the underground railroad?' And I end up writing material that doesn't sound very good coming out of my mouth. So, then I take a deep breath and decide to write a joke about parallel universe underwear — underwear you would wear in a parallel universe — and I feel a lot better."
Stojic says that she's currently working on a bunch of comedy projects and a lot of it, like this sentence you're reading, will be online.
Chantel Marostica was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB but started their comedy career in Montreal roughly 11 years ago. Currently living and working out of Toronto, Ontario, they identify as non-binary.
"I loved all forms of comedy since I can remember," Marostica says. "I'd stay up late with my dad and watch Gilda [Radner] crush on SNL, watch Whoopie Goldberg and Robin Williams host Comic Relief, and I was hooked!
"I started taking theatre classes when I was 12 and my teacher pushed me into improv," they add. "I joined my high school improv team, and got on stage or found some way of entertaining myself and the people around me from a very young age. I've been doing comedy in some form ever since I started doing improv, but it took me until about 22, 23 to really seek it out. There was nothing in Winnipeg, save for an open mic at the one club there every two months.
"I was obsessed and hay was not enough for me, so I packed up and moved to Montreal. I eventually moved back to Winnipeg and have been in T.O. for three years. Nothing can stop this now. It's been my life — my entire life!"
Growing up in blue collar Winnipeg, Marostica now makes a point of being as queer positive as possible. They say the city's general vibe wasn't particularly sensitive to difference or marginalized voices within its communities. They were bulled and encountered a tremendous and varied amount of phobia. And so, Marostica makes a point of being as inclusive as possible in their act.
"I'd explain my comedy like this: like getting kissed on the lips by Peter Pan," they joke. "I'm full of childhood whimsy, I'm a goof and I can truly say my silliness is endearing and infectious no matter who my audience may be. That being said, no topic is off the table for me.
"I talk about varying subject matter, but I try to present it in a way that it's a teaching moment — that you don't know you're a part of," they add. "I can talk about misogyny, gender identity, catcalling and many other things, while being informative, sharing my opinion and making the audience laugh. It's almost like smoke and mirrors. I'm silly to a point, but the point is still very much there."
Marostica is very busy! You can see them at the monthly lgbtq comedy showcase, Church Street Comedy, at Pegasus on Church (489B Church Street) every third Sunday of the month, which they co-produce with Adrienne Fish. Their next show is Sunday, December 17 at 8PM with headliner Elvira Kurt.
They're also part of the lgbtq showcase, Queer and Present Danger, which tours across Canada, promoting Canada's queer comedic voices. Its next tour stop is Yuk Yuks Ottawa on January 9 and 10; they also just released two comedy compilations that are accessible on iTunes.
There's also the Up & Comers, a bi-monthly showcase at the Rivoli in Toronto that features ten up-and-coming queer comics and the queer headliner of their choice. The next show is Tuesday January 2.
"This January I'll be featured as 'Juliana,' the first non-binary character played by a non-binary actor on Canadian television, on season two of CBC's Workin' Moms," Marostica adds, proudly. "And this March I'll be taping my first album. I'll be doing two shows at [Toronto's] Comedy Bar and two shows at the Park Theatre in Winnipeg."
Come see these people deliver some thought-provoking jokes on Thursday December 7 at the Wenona Lodge.
A ten-dollar ticket includes one pint of Steamwhistle; you can buy tickets in advance here. (Comedy Records)