If you’ve been anywhere in Montreal in the past few weeks, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of comedienne Tranna Wintour. She’s on the cover of CULT magazine this month in honour of her one-woman show during Montreal’s Fringe Festival (going on now).
For the past few years, Ms.Wintour has been blowing up the comedy scene in Montreal with her unique brand of wit and personal insight. She performs tirelessly in every venue imaginable, even schlepping as far as New York City to deliver her brand of comic sass.
We sat down with Tranna last week to discuss comedy, fashion and most importantly: what kind of fabric should one wear on stage!
How would you describe your brand of comedy?
My brand of comedy is very much an expression of who I am. Everything I do on stage is rooted in my point of view, my personality, my voice. Stand-up comedy that is rooted in the performer’s personality has always been the kind of comedy I’ve loved most. I think what I do fits within the story-telling genre of comedy, and I like to think that it’s also intellectual and provocative and glamorous, if comedy can be glamorous. I like to throwback to the days of old school performance, a time when performers did it all: told jokes, acted, sang, danced.
To what do you think you owe your success? What keeps your fans coming back for more?
I think whatever success I’ve had has been a result of coming from a place of love in everything I do–self-love, the love of storytelling and performing, the love of interacting with an audience. When I get up on stage, no matter where I am, or how I’m feeling, I always give 110% of myself. As someone who grew up being a fan of so many performers – I still am – and knowing the profound effect the art of performance has had on my life, I regard the relationship between performer and audience as something sacred. I see being on stage as an honour and a privilege and it’s not something I ever take for granted. I am all about the exchange with the audience, creating energetic and memorable moments with them, and I think they sense that.
Who are your comedic influences/inspirations? Anyone you would like to model your career after?
My two main comedy inspirations are Margaret Cho and Sandra Bernhard. They are both so fearless, authentic, and hilarious. But what I love most about both of them is that what they do goes so far beyond just making people laugh. Making people laugh is great, but as a comedy fan, I need something more. When I see any kind of performer, I need to walk away from the performance asking questions, feeling inspired, feeling changed in some way. Margaret and Sandra always deliver on those fronts. Sandra in particular has had one of the greatest careers, moving between her one-woman shows to music to fashion and to film, and always being in the mix.
What role does fashion play in your performances?
Fashion is a huge part of my performance. It’s an opportunity for me to express myself visually and to bring the glamour back to comedy. I think fashion gives us the chance to live our fantasies out loud and express our authentic selves. A lot of people think fashion is superficial and unimportant, but I think fashion has enormous, transformative power.
What kind of things do you like to wear when you perform?
I really love a good jumpsuit. There’s just something so effortlessly chic about a jumpsuit, especially if it has pockets. Even a casual jumpsuit can be glamorous with the right shoes and accessories. I also love any kind of dress that has interesting draping, rushing and cuts. I need to feel like my best, most gorgeous self when I’m on stage and fashion plays a huge part in creating that feeling.
When you’re preparing a show, do you think about what you’ll wear from the get go or do you decide that later on?
Sometimes I’ll find a dress and know right away exactly what show I’ll wear it for. When I was preparing for my one-woman show, TRANTASY, for the Montreal Fringe Festival, I knew I needed something new and incredibly fabulous to mark the occasion, because this show is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I shopped everywhere but could not find a dress that was special enough. Two weeks before the opening night, I decided to make the shopping rounds one last time and stumbled upon the most amazing, grecian, old-school Hollywood glam dress I had ever seen and just knew in that moment I had to wear it for my opening night. Other times, it will be the morning of a show day and I still have absolutely no idea what to wear, and that can be a bit of a panic, but it always comes together.
What would you say are the best go-to fabrics/textiles for the stage?
When you’re on stage it’s really important to wear fabrics that breathe well. Under the spotlight it can get very hot and there’s nothing more unglamorous than sweating up a storm. And of course, nothing looks better on stage than sequins and beading. Everyone loves a little sparkle!
Who are your style/fashion inspirations?
I have so many! I’m constantly inspired by the disco era, 1977-1981. Halston was the greatest designer of that period, and the aesthetic he created was the epitome of glamour and one that I constantly reference. I also love the aesthetic of Paris Vogue when it was under the editorship of Carine Roitfeld–the “porno-chic” aesthetic. I’m greatly inspired by the personal style of Amanda Lear, Liza Minnelli, Dalida, Kylie Minogue, and Barbra Streisand in the 60s. And as far as fictional characters go, I’ve always loved the style of Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous.
How do you use social media and what role do you think social media plays in fashion in 2015?
I use social media to promote my work but also, and more importantly, as an extension of the work that I do on stage. For example, I would never use Twitter to tell everyone what I ate for breakfast. I’ll use Twitter to tell jokes or share funny anecdotes, and sometimes those things will be worked into my set. Social media at its best is an opportunity to create, social media can be a stage or a canvas, if that’s how you choose to use it. As a result of using social media in this manner, I am fortunate enough to have followers from all over the world. These people can’t come to my live shows, but they still get to experience what I do in a different format and I get to interact with so many amazing, talented people.
As for social media as it relates to fashion, it’s made fashion completely democratic. It has taken away all the power from magazines like Vogue, which can no longer dictate trends. And I think that’s a great thing. The downside is that it’s made everyone think they’re a model or a stylist. I think it’s important to think about what you post and take care in what you choose to post. You don’t need to post a picture of the outfit you’re about to go do your groceries in. But if there’s an outfit you’ve put thought into, an outfit that is interesting and contributes something to the on-going fashion dialogue, by all means post it and share it!
What’s coming up for you in 2015/2016?
Right now I’m in the middle of my Montreal Fringe Festival run, presenting my one-woman show, TRANTASY, which is basically a tranny-on-a-budget version of Mariah Carey’s Vegas residency, with less singing, but probably just as many laughs. That is going on until June 21st at The Wiggle Room. In July, I’ll be doing a show called “My First Time” as part of the Zoofest festival, with a group of amazing comedians. And after that, who knows? It’s already been such a crazy, wonderful year, and I just hope to continue what I’m doing.
Trantasy is playing at Montreal’s Wiggle Room:
Tuesday, June 16th
Thursday, June 18th
Friday, June 19th
Saturday, June 20th
Sunday, June 21st