When Ed Hill immigrated to Canada from Taiwan aged 10, his dad told him it was a family vacation. He never owned up to this little lie, so in a sense Hill is still on vacation 21 years later (but one where you have to work and pay tax).
During his extended vacation, Hill has been a DJ, a high school teacher, and a clinical counsellor for troubled teens (he majored in psychology at UBC and holds a master’s in clinical psychology from SFU). More recently, though, he has been enjoying an emerging career as one of Vancouver’s top “Canasian” comedians, as he refers to himself. “In Canada, people see me as Asian, and in Taiwan I am Canadian. I am Canasian. I am a nobody to anybody,” he once explained on CBC Radio.
Much of his material deals with biculturalism and his experiences as an immigrant. Keen to bust the stereotype of Asians as being nothing but obedient, hard-working, and lacking in strong opinions, Hill has added his unique voice to the local and international comedy circuit and is rapidly becoming a somebody to everybody.
Since his first routine at a near-empty coffee shop in Burnaby, he’s progressed to regular appearances at comedy festivals in North America and Asia, including some held on his home turf in Vancouver, where he was voted best Vancouver comedian in 2015 and 2016 by readers of the Westender, and this year’s runner up. He was also the runner up in a 2015 Georgia Straight Twitter poll and was named “Comic to Watch” the same year by Canadian Immigrant magazine.
Hill’s tweets have also been attracting attention, featuring on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (“Make all chocolate chip cookies red so we never confuse them with raisin cookies ever again. #MyGeniusIdea”), Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Distractify. Adding to his suite of platforms, Hill created the Son of Smiley weekly podcast, named after his dad, in which he recounts stories from childhood. He has so far released two CDs: Canasian in 2013 and Weirdo Whisperer in 2016, so named because Hill says he is often approached by complete strangers who insist on telling him their life stories.
What is your most prized possession?
It’s a tie between my soul and my wallet.
Who was your childhood hero?
A superhero called L-Man, which is short for Lizard Man. He had the power of a lizard that made him bullet proof. It makes no sense at all because lizards are definitely not bullet proof. I think I just ruined my own childhood hero.
Describe the place you most like to spend time
In my bed. There are typically two pillows, one duvet and two fat Chihuahuas.
What was the last thing you read?
Hinomaru Zumo by Kawada. I was on the toilet.
What or who makes you laugh out loud?
The name of my home Wi-Fi. It’s “Fart Castle”.
What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
Always check if there is toilet paper before you sit down in a public bathroom stall.
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Sleep. Eat. Excrete. Repeat.
What was your nickname at school?
Ed. It’s short for Edward.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Son of Smiley. My dad’s name is Smiley. Seriously.
If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
I’ll take one trillion dollars. US dollars.
What item have you owned for the longest time?
A yellow t-shirt that I wore as a pajama shirt for years, and then my wife made me burn it in a campfire.
What is your latest purchase?
A bottle of water. The water fountain at the golf course was gross.
Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
My dad, because when I was a child I was constipated a lot and he had to fix it.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
A smiling poop emoji.
If you could invent something, what would it be?
Something that can make me one trillion US dollars.
In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
Whatever era comes after the present one, because the cell phone technology would be ridiculous.
What are you afraid of?
Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
The skill to be never itchy again.
Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
A recording of moose mating sounds, a recording of deer mating sounds, and a recording of duck mating sounds. It’s for hunting purposes. Don’t be a pervert.
What is your pet peeve?
The feeling of rain hitting the top of my head.
What are some of your UBC highlights?
I accidentally registered as a woman during the first year and I had the most interesting conversation with the student advisor trying to convince him I was a guy.
This video contains strong language.