Andrea Jin is a must-watch stand-up comedian (and reluctant TikTok star)

Jin puts a funny spin on what her peers feel—but don’t say
Mira Miller

Some might think Andrea Jin’s trademark sweet-then-dark jokes about, say, China’s one-child policy, veer into too-far territory, but 250,000 TikTok followers can’t be wrong. Mulan, her grandparents—all of it is fodder for the Vancouver comedian, who has channelled her dry, yeah-I-said-it sensibility into online acclaim and a ticket to Los Angeles (where she now lives).

Now 27, Jin was just 10 when her family immigrated from China to Vancouver. After school, she received English lessons from Family Guy and Russell Peters’s stand-up—stuff no kid should hear. “My parents didn’t speak English either, so they couldn’t tell,” she says. She got hooked on performing during a five-minute set at a campus comedy event at Western University, where she studied business. Everyone was eating and doing homework, but Jin wasn’t fazed. She quit school, took a job at a Vancouver steakhouse and gigged at small comedy clubs around the city—for free, at first. In 2019, Jin was a finalist in SiriusXM’s Top Comic competition. Then she appeared at Just for Laughs in Montreal. “Things just snowballed.”

Even as her career began to resemble those of her idols, Jin still didn’t see herself in their shoes. “Those male powerhouses were great,” Jin says, “but being an Asian girl, none of them had my perspective.” That is until Grandma’s Girl, a 2020 recording of Jin’s most crowd-pleasing bits, including “Wax Me” and “Asians Are in Movies Now.” Every single track was labelled “explicit” on Apple Music.

When gigs dried up during the pandemic, Jin’s manager, who signed her after a New Faces showcase at Just for Laughs, suggested she post clips of Grandma’s Girl online. Initially, Jin thought it was “cringe.” But her riffs on the pitfalls of social media and gently rejecting her female friends—she’s bisexual—have since earned Jin hundreds of thousands of fans, who flood her DMs with gratitude for making them feel seen. “I do this for selfish reasons—I didn’t know it would affect others positively,” she says, laughing, then uncharacteristically earnest. “It keeps me going.”

Last spring, Grandma’s Girl won a Juno for Comedy Album of the Year, and recently, Jin was hired to write for the Comedy Central series Digman! She’s gone Hollywood insofar as she’s already booked James Corden and has written a sitcom pilot (with plans to pitch), but she’s still shocked when she—“just some Canadian!”—gets recognized on the street. It brings to mind one of Jin’s favourite jokes, her long-time opener, where she asks the audience if it’s okay that she’s an immigrant. They seem to love it.

This article appears in print in the April 2023 issue of Maclean’s magazine. Buy the issue for $9.99 or better yet, subscribe to the monthly print magazine for just $39.99.