It isn’t often (or ever, frankly) that an entirely queer comedy show can be found anywhere outside a dense city centre. It’s a problem that comedians Chantel Marostica and DeAnne Smith are hoping to solve.
Marostica has spent months lining up talent, venues and sponsors. The result is the Queer and Present Danger comedy tour, a 10-show tour beginning in Hamilton, Ontario on Nov 25, 2016, sponsored by Daily Xtra, Sirius XM, Amsterdam Brewhouse and Fleshjack. Not a bad outing for someone who claims 75 percent of her personality comes from a cute haircut.
Most of the tour stops are in communities typically underserved by this type of queer programming: Barrie, Waterloo, Windsor and St Catharines are just a few of the cities they’ll visit. At each stop, the tour is opened by local queer talent.
Further motivation for the tour comes from a regular misconception that Marostica and Smith face in their careers.
“The reason we’re putting on the show is that I feel like at a lot of the shows I do, I’m the token gay,” Marostica explains. “They look at it like oh, we can’t have two women. We can’t have more than one gay or more than one person of colour. But you can have 10 men that look exactly alike?”
“We’re not all the same, we’re not the token gay. You can have a show and it can be completely diverse, with just all the tokens.”
It’s a frustrating additional hurdle to jump over in an already harsh industry. And while it doesn’t help their cause when they show up to interviews in identical outfits, their two comedic brands are worlds apart.
“I’ve been described — and I think it’s accurate — as nerdy but dirty,” Smith says. “I tend to have kind of nerdy jokes that are smart jokes, but they have some weird undercurrent or edge or I end up pointing at my crotch. I’m always a mix of both.”
For Smith, who has performed around the world, an all-queer tour presents a unique opportunity to bond with an audience.
“In a regular comedy club I usually spend three minutes off the top being like, ‘Hi, I know I look like a little boy. I’m different from you guys!’” she says. “[On this tour] I might not even explicitly talk about being gay.”
And like any tour, it’s a great way for performers to explore new cities, work on material and tap into new fan bases.
“I want everyone to have a good time, which I know they will. I’m also hoping to sell some sweet merch and I’m hoping we crush some sweet puss — of our girlfriends, that we are monogamous to,” Smith jokes.
For her part, Marostica tends to wield a louder stage presence.
“I’m a performance comedian. Like when people ask me to tell them a joke, you’re not gonna get it if I just say one of my jokes, [because] I’m a very visual comic,” she says.
And true to form, you can expect Marostica to address her look on stage. “All I talk about is what my hair looks like,” she jokes. “It’s going to take up most of the tour.”
Behind the haircut, Marostica has proven to be a savvy tour producer. Her home is currently full of beer cases and Fleshjack products, gifts from sponsors that are coming with them on tour.
“They sent me all these pornstar’s bums, mouths and molds of their penises,” Marostica laughs. “I feel like there’s going to be so many lesbians on the tour that they’ll just mount them on a shower, put some lotion inside and boom, you’ve got a lotion dispenser.”
Marostica has an added personal investment in the tour. Money she raises from the tour is going towards her upcoming top surgery, which she’s already begun fundraising for.
And while the image of a car full of lesbians travelling across Ontario accompanied with thousands of dollars in sex toys may seem comical (they are comics, after all), their motivations are undeniably noble.
Thinking beyond 10 shows, the duo hope this tour will jump-start some long-term plans. Along with tour host Jess Beaulieu, they’re hoping to establish Queer and Present Danger as a brand to help queer comedians find work.
“We’re making a database of all the queer comics in Canada,” Marostica explains. “Hopefully people can come to Queer and Present Danger productions to book queer talent and ideally we’ll get people’s names out there and be able to create more work for the community.”