“For the last seven years, I’ve just been doing comedy,” explains Chantel Marostica over some Half Pints at the Toad the other evening. “It’s on me to move my career forward. So I’m just doing it, going full throttle and doing this DVD.”
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Winnipeg comedy fans will recognize Marostica from any number of projects and performances she’s been a part of over those past seven years. A regular at the Winnipeg Comedy Fest and weekly comedy nights at the Cavern, the Kings Head, and the Rose n’ Bee, you could say Chantel has already been going full throttle for quite some time. But now she’s looking to move onward.
“I really just want to get the material I have out of my mouth and down somewhere,” she says as the Jets score a goal on the TV behind us and the bar erupts. “I basically want to start over with my stand-up. I want to get everything I’ve worked on up to now out on a DVD, then just keep working from there.”
The DVD we’re talking about is Keep It Going, to be taped on Tuesday, February 19 at the Park Theatre, a venue Marostica is very familiar with. For the past six years, Chantel has been a cast member and promoter with Soap Scum, a weekly improv/soap opera that has been entertaining crowds at the south Osborne venue Monday evenings. For Keep It Going, Chantel has two sets booked, an early show at 7:00pm and a late show at 10:00pm, which will be filmed then edited into an hour-long comedy special.
The road to this DVD has been a long and strange one for Marostica, who tells me she’s known that she wanted to be a comedian from the age of “eight or 10.” “I was always the class clown,” Marostica admits, “and it just built from there to me wanting to make people want to laugh at all times.”
At the age of 18, she started writing, doing her first stand-up at the Academy when she was 20. At the time, Winnipeg’s comedy scene was in its infancy. “So I signed up for Open Mic [at Rumours] which was every two months,” she recalls. “I figured, well, I can’t do this only every two months. So I decided to move to Montreal.”
In Montreal, she started hitting open mics and comedy nights hard. Her single-minded commitment to comedy paid off quickly, with an appearance on Just For Laughs in 2006. Shortly thereafter, Chantel found herself struggling, and returned to Winnipeg. “I got addicted to drugs, and hit rock bottom,” she admits readily. “When I came back [to Winnipeg in 2006] it was like in that Simpsons’ episode when Lisa puts the tooth in the cola and overnight there grows this world? They started comedy nights. All of a sudden there were a bunch of comedy nights.”
With comedy nights now running regularly at the Rose n’ Bee Pub, the Cheer Bar & Grill, the King’s Head Pub and Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, there’s plenty of opportunity for Winnipeg comedians to do stand-up. “After I was back for about two years, every night of the week I could do comedy.”
Taking full advantage of Winnipeg’s growing scene, Chantel has certainly carved a name for herself out among her peers. “I’ve known Chantel for a few years,” says Tim Gray, local comedian, Week Thus Far contributor, and MC for the “Keep It Going” performances. “She has always been intimidatingly funny. Going toe to toe with her on jokes is like having a knife fight with someone made entirely out of knives.
“She’s uniquely funny because there are no limits to her energy and imagination,” Gray continues, when I ask him what makes Chantel’s comedy stick out from the crowd. “She’ll make something up out of thin air and make you seriously care about it as if it were real.”
“I don’t know really how to explain myself when people ask me that,” replies Marostica when I ask her the same question. “I guess it’s observational comedy. I’ll have observed it and thought about why that was funny, then I’ll make it twice as stupid so that you laugh at some level as to when you were a kid or an adult too.”
Anyone who’s seen Marostica perform can attest to the energy and imagination that Gray describes. With bits topic matter ranging anywhere from dysfunctional parents, magic, Winnipeg weirdos, and anything else that might observe and ponder in the long hours of the night. “I have bad insomnia so that helps with my writing,” Chantel adds, as an aside.
Many of her bits draw more from sketch comedy than stand-up, a skill that comes in handy for her weekly Soap Scum performances. It’s this other side of comedy that Chantel is looking forward to exploring after wrapping the DVD taping. “I want to take a month off comedy and work on some other projects,” Marostica explains. On the list of projects are producing comedy events, writing sketch comedy, and developing an idea for an “adult puppet shot” that she and Gray have been tossing around.
“I guess,” she says, “I consider myself more of an entertainer, than a comedian.”
Chantel Marostica — @ChantyMarostica — will headline two shows on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Park Theatre to film her next DVD. Tickets are $15, and showtimes are at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Sheldon Birnie is a Winnipeg based writer & editor with a keen interest in crokinole, hockey, and partying. Follow him on Twitter @badguybirnie