Andrea Jin hopes her grandmother never listens to her new comedy album, Grandma's Girl

The 24-year-old Vancouver comedian pulls a lot of her comedic inspiration from her grandparents, so much so that she fears her album will get her in trouble.
(Dale Leung)

Although Andrea Jin's new comedy album, Grandma's Girl, is titled after the woman that raised her, the Vancouver comedian says she would be "horrified" if her grandmother ever listened to it. 

Moving from China to Canada at the age of 10 and being raised by her grandparents, Jin says many of the jokes in her album are about her grandmother because she has such a large influence on her life. 

"She's just such a quirky, funny person that she makes so many appearances and so I just felt like I needed to mention her," Jin says. 

"She's not used to North American humour, she's more into slap-stick comedy, falling down the stairs and stuff so I don't think she'll understand me making fun of her. Pretty sure I'll get in trouble." 

Although Jin has shown her Mandarin-speaking grandmother the album's cover art, she has never translated any of the jokes for her.

"I'm scared. Her best friend speaks a little bit of English so I hope she doesn't ask her," she laughs. 

Grandma's Girl album cover (Monica McCrea)

Jin's album was taped in January of 2020, at the time she had only been doing standup for three years and was working hard on establishing herself as a comic. 

Starting standup at the age of 20, Jin felt late to the game and was keen on perfecting her craft and proving herself. Leading up to her album, she was performing as often as possible and booking herself for three to four spots per night.

"I wanted to prove myself, I wanted to do a full album, and I wanted to do it with good material. I didn't want people to think that I did it too early and I worked myself really hard. My life was all about standup. It was kind of crazy," she says. 

Jin explains that her strong work ethic is something she inherited from her parents, and at times it can be both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes causing the 24-year-old to compare herself to comics who are twice her age and more established in their careers.

"My family thinks you have to start early if you want to be good at stuff… so I felt guilty that I didn't start standup when I was like 8 years old," she laughingly explains. 

In addition to her competitive drive, it was also Jin's family who inspired her love for standup comedy. 

"My family... we don't really show affection, I don't think I hugged my parents, or my grandparents who raised me until I was like 19… Every time we bonded was when we watched a funny program on TV. It would be in Chinese, because my family is Chinese."

Jin also watched English standup alone in her personal time, but it wasn't until she started university that she realized she could participate in it herself. 

"I grew up in a heavily immigrant populated neighbourhood. I went to school with all immigrants basically, and they were all heavily focused on academics, going to university and getting a serious job placement," she explains. 

Andrea Jin performing at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. (Leif Norman)

"I didn't know that people went into creative fields. So when I finally went to university, I exited that little community and I realized that people were going to film school, or to paint and I was like, 'what, you can do this?' So it was in university where I joined their comedy club."

Jin, who was enrolled in a pre-business program at Western University, joined the school's comedy club and soon realized that her true passion was not in business, but doing standup comedy. So she decided to move back to Vancouver and begin pursuing her career. 

She hopes that Grandma's Girl works to introduce listeners to who she is both as a person and a comic. Her aim is for her comedy to be relatable to others and she says although not everyone may have a similar upbringing to hers — immigrating to a new country and being the only English-speaking member of your family — she says, "everyone can relate to family, everyone can relate to feeling awkward in a public situation."

Although Jin actively works on her craft and has been successful in her career thus far, especially at the young age of only 24, she still faces challenges. 

"I think the most difficult part is trying to prove myself at times because while most people are very open-minded, welcoming and nice, there's this thing where people think that women aren't funny or people of colour only talk about race, there's tropes," she says. 

"It's hard to overcome the box that people put you in already… A lot of people have it subconsciously, and you can feel it in a crowd sometimes because every crowd is so different."

Jin explains that when she is faced with a crowd like this she can't "just come out and do jokes", she has to explain herself first. She says that once she talks about the fact that she is Asian and a woman, "it releases the tension of them thinking about it" and she is able to continue on with her set. 

"Sometimes your peers don't understand that. They'll kind of be unfair about it thinking that I have an advantage because I'm an Asian woman. But we all have advantages and disadvantages, you know," Jin says. 

"There's a boom in the push to have more people of colour in the entertainment industry, so they think if you are a person of colour you will just get a job, and that's not true. You still have to work hard, you still have to do the job."