The pandemic has been a hardscrabble time for musicians and actors, and it hasn’t been a lot of laughs for stand-up comics either, according to Vancouver comedian Ed Hill.
But Hill is back on the road and headlines a show with fellow funny-man Dan Duvall on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the 101 Brewhouse in Gibsons.
“I still remember the day [in March 2020] when everything got locked down, because it was literally exactly two weeks prior to my Amazon Prime special taping,” Hill told Coast Reporter.
The special was supposed to have been recorded before a live audience at the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia. But with UBC closed due to COVID, the venue was eventually changed to a more intimate set at a cultural centre in Vancouver the following July. It was still before a live audience, but one that was reduced to a family-and-friends crowd of just eight people, with a much different feel to what had originally been planned.
“It serendipitously captured the essence of that [pandemic] period,” said Hill. “I was able to capture the reality we’re in, so I think people are going to connect to that.”
The production, Candy & Smiley, made the list of Top 10 Comedy Specials of 2021, by the U.S. entertainment periodical, Paste Magazine, and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
One way Hill stayed in touch with his audience during the pandemic was through online comedy shows on Zoom. While it’s a good medium for business meetings, Zoom is a poor substitute for comedy clubs. For one thing, the performer can’t hear anyone laughing – or if they’re even laughing at all.
“Zoom is one of those platforms that only one [audio source] can get through at a time,” Hill noted. “So, whatever is the loudest wins. Sometimes the loudest thing is not a laugh, it’s somebody’s blender in the background.”
Much of Hill’s humour has concerned his family, with whom he immigrated to Canada from Taiwan more than 25 years ago. The TV special’s title, Candy & Smiley, are first names his mother and father adopted after arriving in Vancouver. “It makes no sense,” Hill said. “Smiley never smiles. He’s the most terrifying man I’ve ever known in my life.”
Along with those family tribulations, which Hill transforms into funny bits, he’s bringing fresh material. “The new show is about my relationship with the female figures in my life. I started realize that doesn’t matter what community you’re from, it’s the women that hold true strength.”
A serious observation, but one that Hill will use to generate more than a few laughs.
Hill and Duvall’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at eventbrite.ca.