By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Ed Hill’s start in comedy was a prerequisite. <!–more–>
Then again, it was probably an elective. “I took a class when I was in graduate school,” explained the 30-year-old Taiwanese Canadian. While in graduate school at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., Hill decided to take a comedy writing class. Five years removed from taking the class, Hill has found a knack and comfort for telling jokes in front of people and his comedy has become a serious side gig. Dubbing himself as the “Canasian” (Canadian Asian), he jokes that comedy has “ruined his life.”
Hill’s full-time job is being a mental health therapist. Hill holds a master’s degree from Simon Fraser and an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. Hill’s job is a serious one for someone that is skilled at making people laugh. Hill does not mix work with play. “There’s nothing funny about my day job,” he remarked. Although he does not hide his comedy career, he does not impose it on his co-workers.
Hill started his career doing “open mic” nights, where comedy clubs allow people to come up and tell jokes. Now, Hill has agents that assist him in getting booked for shows on college campuses, as well as other venues. “There’s a lot of sleeping in airports and on the road,” said Hill of his life on the road. Typically, Hill travels on the weekends in order to accommodate his full-time job.
There are times when work and his comedy shows have come into conflict. Hill was able to do shows in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. He recalls that after the comedy shows, he flew back home to Vancouver with little time to recover from jet leg. “I literally went home, took a shower, and went to work,” Hill said.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Hill and his parents moved to Vancouver, B.C. when he was 10 years old.
In addition to “open mic” nights, in order to establish himself as a comedian, Hill worked many comedy festivals and networked with other comedians. One of these chance meetings included Louie Anderson. Anderson has been in numerous movies and television shows and is also known for hosting the game show “Family Feud.” Hill established a connection with Anderson over the course of time. Through Anderson’s help, Hill was able to obtain an American work visa and was the opening act for several of Anderson’s shows, including one in Las Vegas and two recent shows in Washington state.
Hill recalls one of the Washington tour dates with Anderson was at the Central Washington State Fair. There were 5,000 people in attendance and he was on a jumbotron, so people could see. “It was definitely a different and humbling experience for me,” recalled Hill.
“At the bottom of it, I’m pure stand-up.” Hill is not looking for an acting career as he does not believe he’s a very good actor.
Hill’s comic material is based on his insecurities, observations on life, and identity as a Taiwanese Canadian. “I don’t sit down and write, and I’m always thinking,” explained Hill on the way he comes up with jokes. “It’s a fluid process. I don’t sit down for an hour at night. I’m always adding stuff.” Instead of a notepad, Hill puts his notes in his phone with words that help him recall the jokes. “I have a good memory,” said Hill.
Hill jokingly talks about how his parents react to his comedy. “My dad hopes I’ll grow out of it,” Hill said with a smile. “My mom says she hates it, but she’ll share everything with her friends.” Hill adds, “My brother is indifferent.”
Despite the perception that stand-up comedy comes with great stress and anxiety to have strangers like your jokes, Hill says he is a person with “low anxiety.” “I like the idea of challenging myself,” said Hill of comedy. “You can write something and immediately test something to see if it is good.” Hill enjoys the immediate feedback on his comedy material. “I’m not a patient person.” (end)
For more information, you can follow Ed Hill on twitter @kingedhill and his website at www.kingedhill.com.
Hill will be back in Seattle at the Parlor Live on Feb. 11, 2015. He will be headlining a Chinese New Year show.
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.