As the video of comedian Andrea Jin’s October 25 set on The Late Late Show With James Corden fades out, you can hear Corden, who’s walked over to congratulate her, complimenting her on her delivery — which means a lot because we know how picky he can be about the way things are dished out. (If only she had appeared on the show a week earlier when this reference was still timely.) But Corden’s praise is warranted. Jin delivers her jokes with a hesitant lilt, as if she’s asking permission to express her thoughts, but it’s a smoke screen to make her take-no-prisoners punch lines hit harder. She has this way of knocking on the door timidly, hiding before it’s answered, and then jumping into the house through a skylight.
Jin, who recently moved to L.A. after making a name for herself in Vancouver and winning a Juno Award for Best Comedy Album for her 2021 album Grandma’s Girl, shows off this strength at the top of her set — which happens to be her late-night television debut. She introduces herself to the audience by saying, “I immigrated here from China,” then asking, “Is that okay?” She looks around the room to give the impression she needs them to validate this before saying, “I mean, it doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving.”
She uses a similar approach to tackle topics like preferring the movie Sleeping Beauty to Mulan (“She was asleep for that whole movie, and when she woke up she had a castle and money”), her bisexuality, and the time she spent living with her grandparents. “Having grandparents is kind of like when you get a rescue dog,” she says about her grandparents’ tendency to hoard rice. “You don’t know what happened to them before they got to you.” She continues, “Do you guys know that saying ‘Don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach because you end up buying too much?’ We have a similar saying where I’m from. It’s ‘Don’t go to the bulk-food store if you’ve ever had a communist dictator.’”
It’s a classic bait and switch, matching the one she performs with her onstage persona. She has as little reason to be insecure about her jokes as her grandparents do about how much rice they can buy. But by acting like she is, she gets laughs in bulk. It’s no wonder she named her album Grandma’s Girl.