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Moving toward more inclusive comedy

by Maggie Hope October 31, 2017
Moving toward more inclusive comedy

Local comedian and performer Tranna Wintour takes the stage as Rocky’s new MC

She knows she has big shoes to fill. When she was asked to be the new MC of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tranna Wintour was both honoured and apprehensive. This is the first time in 10 years that the Montreal show will have a new host.

Wintour is replacing Plastik Patrik, who has been a large part of the Montreal production of Rocky over the last decade. Although she acknowledges that many people have become attached to Patrik’s role in the show, Wintour said she is excited to be a part of the event’s new direction. “I think that goes for all creative fields,” she said. “I think it’s important, even when something works, to push it further or try to make it fresh.”

Wintour applies this philosophy to her comedy as well. She said she is always looking for ways to reinvent her performances, and this show is just another opportunity to do so. Rocky’s audience is the largest crowd Wintour has performed in front of, and the comedian said she is grateful for the opportunity to meet more people and show them her work. Although she didn’t rehearse with the cast, Wintour met them about a week before the  first performance and immediately felt welcomed.

MCing for Rocky also gave Wintour the chance to fall in love with costumes again. “I love Halloween,” she said excitedly before adding that she recently lost interest in wearing costumes. Soon after accepting the role as the host of Rocky, Wintour faced the conundrum of what to wear for the show. By chance, she met local designer Becca Love, who offered to dress Wintour. Love creates handmade, gender-neutral, cruelty-free clothing, which immediately piqued Wintour’s interest. “I’m excited to showcase her work,” the comedian said.

Wintour stands at centre stage surrounded by the cast of this year’s production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Photo by Maggie Hope.

Wintour received the offer to be the show’s new MC after being recommended to the producers last year by a number of people familiar with her comedy. Wintour hosts several of her own shows and has been gradually establishing herself as a comedic force within Montreal’s scene for a number of years. She hosts a bi-weekly series called Trannavision, where she and other local comedians hold movie screenings and provide light-hearted live commentary. She is also part of a monthly collaborative comedy show series called Stand Back, which features feminist, LGBTQ+ comedy acts in an effort to combat the homophobic, sexist and offensive humour that is often present in mainstream comedy.

“I really believe, now more than ever, in the power of the performing arts and live performance, because I feel like it’s one of the few things that really gets people together face-to-face,” Wintour said. “It’s easy to argue with people online and take things out of context, but when you’re face-to-face with someone, it’s a much more human and real experience. I feel like that’s where a deeper level of communication happens.”

The comedian added that she wants to use her comedic platform as a way to unify and uplift people, especially in today’s social and political climate. “To offer, in some small way, some kind of comfort and escape. At the same time, we have to be vigilant and present, and we can’t ignore anything that’s going on,” she said. “But I think we also need some time to breathe a little bit and experience some kind of collective joy.”

In addition to providing much needed breathing room, Wintour said she hopes her work can be the spur for a more aware and attentive era in the world of comedy. The events she organizes and takes part in are all in an effort to make audience members feel safe, but also to have them leave with a deeper understanding of the importance of acceptance. “I think comedy has to be powerful, and I think comedy has to say something. I really believe that you can say something and be funny without having to be abusive,” Wintour said. “I don’t think that when comedy is considerate that it’s any less edgy.”

The final run of this year’s edition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. The next Trannavision event will be a screening of Death Becomes Her (1992) at Psychic City at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2. The third installment of Stand Back: A Comedy Hour will be on Nov. 14 at Notre-Dame-des-Quilles from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for the latter two events are $5 at the door.

Feature photo by Alex Hutchins

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