Funny faceoff

Winnipeg’s best comics compete at the Just for Laughs Comedy Showcase

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent.”

- Steve Martin

There’s a lot of competition in the comedy world, playing to silent audiences and going against the best and brightest (or the worst and angriest). Though there are many places a comic strives to get to, Just for Laughs is one of the big ones, an event at which comedians who’ve ‘made it’ perform stand-up to likely their biggest audience.

The highly-popular annual comedy festival has featured such household names as Jerry Seinfeld, Dane Cook and Chris Rock, just to name a few, but also gives rising stars a chance to gain notoriety.

This month, 11 of Winnipeg’s best comedians will perform in front of scouts from Just for Laughs for a chance to go to Montreal and be a part of the marquee festival.

Dan Verville is hosting the event and participated in its 2012 incarnation.

“I’m pretty pumped to be a part of it again, and get a chance to be on stage with a lot of great local talent,” he says.

Verville, a host at Rumor’s Restaurant and Comedy Club, says regularly working at the venue has helped him immensely in his comedy career.

“6 of the 11 comedians performing have been Rumor’s hosts at one point or another, and if you’re a comedian in the city and you’re looking to take it to the next level that’s what you do. It gets you noticed for sure,” he says.

Another established comedian that will be performing is Chantel Marostica, who went to Montreal in 2006 for the Just for Laughs Festival.

“I’d like to think because I was in it before, I deserve to be in it again,” Marostica says. “There are a lot of funny people in Canada, and I just hope that I get to be one of those people again.”

Marostica is the only female comedian that will be performing at the Winnipeg showcase.

“It was hard at first, when you’re a woman trying to get into a man’s profession, but I can hold my own. Whenever I get introduced on stage I’m a ‘force to be reckoned with’ or a ‘lightning bolt’, not just because I’m loud, but because I have a presence that can’t be ignored.”

Matt Falk, a seasoned professional, is another noteworthy part of the showcase. He’s been performing comedy for nearly a decade – including placing second in the World Series of Comedy contest in Las Vegas – and is celebrated for his clean stand-up routine and boyish charm.

“I’m excited,” he admits. “I’ve had a chance to perform for one of the scouts twice before so that takes some of the pressure off.

“Comedy is just a bunch of doors that you pursue as they open up, and winning this would just be another door that could lead anywhere. It’s another opportunity that you have to make the best out of.”

Verville agrees, saying everyone on the JFL Winnipeg showcase is a capable comedian.

“They have all been doing stand-up for so long now that this is just another chance to showcase their talents,” he says. “Once you get up onstage and start performing it’s pretty much the same old.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 6, 2013)

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