When Andrea Jin left her family at 20-years-old for business school in London, Ontario, the plan was to come home to Vancouver with a degree. Instead, she came back with a fledgling stand-up career.
Jin has been a comedy fan ever since childhood. When she moved to Vancouver with her grandparents as a 10-year-old, she learned English by watching sitcoms and stand-up comedy on TV.
“I loved the comedians, but no one looked like me,” says Jin. “So I was like, okay, this is not possible, this is not something I can do.”
There was no drama club at her school in South Vancouver. The cool kids were the ones who got good grades and focused on creating a stable future for themselves. But when she moved to Ontario for university, Jin found herself among people who studied improv and film — people pursuing careers that were anything but stable.
Meeting people who were pursuing careers in the arts coupled with the mainstream success of comedians like Ali Wong made Jin realize that she didn’t have to follow the beaten path.
“What really lit the fire in me was when I saw it was possible for someone like me, like Ali [Wong],” says Jin. “I want that for more people, to realize that it’s possible — it’s not just a job for white people.”
In just three years, the 23-year-old Chinese-Canadian has taken the comedy circuit by storm. She’s caught the eye of legendary Vancouver label 604 Records. She’ll be recording her first comedy album with them at the end of January.
In other words, Jin has a lot to celebrate. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“I’m not a political comedian,” says Jin. “But, lately, I’ve been getting a lot more racially charged heckles.”
The comedy world is hard for anyone, but Jin says that women tend to get less respect than male comedians.
“Being an Asian woman, someone in society that’s seen as timid and subservient,” she says. “I have to prove myself more than anyone else because no one expects me to be doing this.”
Onstage, Jin delivers jokes in her deadpan style. She’s got an easygoing, casual demeanour that makes her routine feel more like a conversation with a close friend than a performance. Jin’s done her research.
Dropping out of university has turned out to be a good business decision. She has landed spots on Just For Laughs Northwest’s Best of the West comedy album, competed as a finalist in the U.S. and Canada, including semi-finalist status in SiriusXM’s 2019 Top Comic competition. In February 2020, she’ll perform at the JFL Northwest Festival in Vancouver.
When faced with hecklers, Jin says she does her best to stand her ground and own the room. She’s starting to realize that even if her material isn’t political, her presence is.
“The fact that I’m doing what I’m doing is already a fight back,” she says.
Andrea Jin’s stand-up comedy album recording is January 31 at Little Mountain Gallery. Tickets are available: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/andrea-jin-comedy-album-taping-tickets-84560933027