Nearly a year after Ed Hill was due to film his début comedy special, the Pinetree secondary grad will see his show released — albeit in a different version than before the pandemic hit.
Last March, Hill was scheduled to tape Candy & Smiley — a tribute performance to his first-generation Taiwanese-Canadian parents and about growing up on Coquitlam’s Westwood Plateau — at the Chan Centre at UBC, for Comedy Dynamics.
But when filming was shut down two weeks prior because of the provincial emergency order, Hill went back to the drawing board to figure out how to salvage his upcoming production.
In late July, when the COVID-19 numbers were lower, Hill and his crew set up in the main ballroom of Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre to create a completely new comedy experience.
Using his skills as a clinical counsellor, Hill shared his childhood stories in a type of group therapy environment, with his family and closest friends seated in a very large circle around him.
The revised format — told before his trusted companions instead of a live audience — turned out to be the right fit.
“I have a skill set beyond what other comedians have,” Hill told the Tri-City News. “For me, the smaller, the better because my style is very personal. I can connect with people well that way.”
Tomorrow (Tuesday), Candy & Smiley will be released by Comedy Dynamics through a variety of distribution services such as Comcast, Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Spectrum, Dish, DirectTV, Vimeo and YouTube while, on Friday (March 5), his album will available on Sirius XM, Apple Music and Spotify.
Candy & Smiley is Hill’s nod to his folks and to immigrants who leave their home in search for a better life for their children.
But it’s also a show about struggle, connection and identity in a new land. And although it doesn’t end with a laugh — as most comedies do — his circle guests reveal who Hill is, to them.
“All together, they make up who I am as a person,” he said. “I think I know who I am now. I’m not searching anymore.”
As for his next steps, Hill said he’ll continue with his podcast, Son of Smiley, and he hopes to pick up some stand-up gigs after the vaccinations are rolled out; last year, he played 15 dates in total — his usual number in two weeks, pre-pandemic.
He’ll also delve into an improv/stand-up program with comedian Aidan Parker that will have an educational component.