Ed Hill was recently called “stupid” by his father, but it doesn’t bother him.
It happened while Hill was showing his wife some family photos, ones of him wearing chains and choker necklaces, par for the course for the former musician and nightclub DJ.
“My father just walks by, barely looks down at the pictures, and just says, ‘Stupid Ed,’” Hill says with a chuckle. “Most people might think that’s derogatory or judgmental to say about your own son, but I realize it’s actually a sign of acceptance. ‘Hey, I’ll never understand you, but that’s okay.’
“Not that (my father) would ever admit that’s what he means,” adds Hill.
That phrase, “Stupid Ed,” is the title of the Taiwanese-Canadian comedian’s newest show, slated for the 2022 Rochester Fringe Festival. Reflected through female figures in Hill’s life, “Stupid Ed” explores themes of identity, family and self-acceptance.
Hill, who studied to be a therapist, has an introspective style to his comedy, which forgoes observational humor in favor of examining the inward self. His previous show, “Candy and Smiley,” was named after his parents’ English names and dealt with Hill’s need to rebel as the son of immigrants.
“It was about me wanting to reject my parents but then realizing, I can’t escape it. I’m a mixture of both of them,” Hill says.
“Candy and Smiley” was set to be shot as a comedy special before a large audience. However, the filming was slated to occur in July 2020, during the height of the pandemic. As a result, it was filmed with COVID protocols in place before an intimate crowd of family and friends.
While the special received positive reviews and landed on “Best of 2021” lists for NPR and Paste Magazine, Hill admits COVID has had a particularly bad effect on his ability to perform.
“I tried some Zoom shows, but I found I just couldn’t do it,” says Hill. “There’s a reciprocity to stand-up, before, during, and after the show. (Through Zoom), I had no idea if it was actually any good or not.”
The silver lining in all this, Hill notes, is that performer and audience are both more excited to go to a show now that tours are possible again.
“The stops I’ve had so far, the audiences have all been great. They seem like they really care and appreciate the time they have now, because I think we all understand how possible it is to just disappear,” Hill says.
And on the flip side:
“I’m older now and I actually care about being a participant in the city I’m in,” Hill says. “I used to get bitter, feeling like ‘the venue is bad,’ ‘the compensation is bad.’ But now I feel like it’s just incredible I’m able to do this. So many places in the world, it wouldn’t be possible to do this for a living. It’s a blessing for me to tell my story and make people laugh.”
The comedian recalls being in Rochester once briefly and is excited to visit again.
“What I really remember is it’s way cleaner than New York City,” he says. “There’s no pigeon fighting off a rat for a piece of pizza or whatever. It’s like ‘Whoa! There’s actually trees here! It looks nice!’”
Hill performs at the Geva Theatre Center on Sept. 16, 17, and 18.