“Don’t carry baggage like your ex,” comedian Jon Endo wrote in response to EnVi’s question about bombing on stage. 

In comedy, to bomb is to have your jokes not land, and you will “100% bomb on stage here and there,” Endo continued. “You’ll never know success without failure. Whatever the case for the bomb, don’t get upset. Just review, modify, move on.”

Endo is a Vancouver-based comedian and has been in the funny business for five years now. He has previously performed at Just for Laughs and The Comedy Ring. Earlier this year, he opened for Asian American comedian and actress Helen Hong at the Granville Island Stage. Endo is also the creator of Funny Dumplings, a comedy showcase series at Vancouver’s Comedy After Dark, which gives the stage to both established and emerging Asian comedians. 

EnVi spoke with Jon Endo over email about his path to comedy, the friends he made along the way, and the creation of Funny Dumplings. 

From Producer to Comedian

Before he was a comedian, Endo was an independent film producer from 2009 to 2020. Like many comedians, he wanted to become an actor growing up. “[I] did not go to school for film,” he told EnVi. “Everything was self taught through research, interviews, reading, and trial and error.” Endo then discovered film production while searching for agents. “Because I didn’t speak any other Asian language fluently at the time, or knew martial arts, I couldn’t get an agent,” he said. “So I decided to make changes by becoming a producer.”

It wouldn’t be until 2019 when Endo finally stepped into the spotlight and performed his first comedy set at an open mic night at Yuk Yuk’s. Open mics are for comedians to work on their new material and test the crowd. “They [give] you five minutes to work on your material,” he went on to explain. “My first set was only two and a half minutes, and I decided to do impersonations. I got hooked.” 

While the process of performing at an open mic night may seem easy, it actually took Endo a couple of months to prepare for his first comedy set. The most difficult hurdle was gaining the courage to go for it. He credits his friends Buster, Jay Schaub, and Kris Labelle, who “were the ones who gave really good advice to get over the initial fear a few months before I decided to dive in,” Endo noted. “Once I was mentally ready, I found out about the Yuk Yuk’s open mic from my good friends that I met through film, Alfie Roselli and Milton Ng. They were the ones who helped me organize my thoughts to write my first set. They also were the ones who brought me to the first open mic.”

Comedy vs. Film

Comedy is unlike filmmaking, which is more of a team effort. “Being a comedian is like playing golf: it’s just you, your material and the mic,” he said. To Endo, that is the “fun, challenging part of it all.” But he also credits a lot of his career successes to those around him. From the friends who took him to his first open mic to the mentors he met along the way, everyone “[became] the family I wish I had,” Endo said. “I’ve been very lucky, that I cannot deny.”

Endo describes his style of comedy as “a mix of observational, impersonations, and storytelling.” His comedy influences include Bernie Mac, Bill Burr, Wanda Sykes, Dave Chappelle, and Eddie Murphy. “Bernie Mac had the most impact in my life though,” he said. “He was my go to when my life was at a very low point. I’d even say, his work saved my life.”

One of the most memorable performances Endo recalled was opening for Helen Hong when she was in Vancouver. This was the first time he opened for an Asian American headliner in a sold-out 400-seat theater. “It’s so great to see how Asian Americans and Asian Canadians are being recognized outside of our stereotypes in North America,” he wrote in an Instagram post after the show. “Watching Julie Kim and Helen Hong work their craft not only taught me a log about comedy, but also made me feel very proud to be Asian.” 

Funny Dumplings 

Funny Dumplings is a show held at Vancouver’s Comedy After Dark every first Tuesday of the month. From up-and-coming comedians to seasoned stand-up professionals, the show strives to highlight Asian talent within the Vancouver comedian community. Since its inception, Funny Dumplings has seen local talents like Yumi Nagashima, Nancy Ho, and Aaron Arya perform. 

Endo had pitched the idea for Funny Dumplings to comedy producer Suzy Rawsome at Comedy After Dark. Previously, Rawsome has produced comedy shows at the Keto Caveman Cafe and Comedy Basement at Goldies. Endo first met Rawsome after signing up for one of her amateur work out nights. “A lot of my growth was fostered by her providing me feedback, a space to practice, and opportunities to grow,” he said. Endo chose to work with Rawsome and Comedy After Dark because “Suzy has been very instrumental in my growth as a comedian,” he explained. “She taught me a lot about producing comedy shows and gave us Asian Canadian Comedians a platform to showcase what we can do.”

Image courtesy of Andrew Gerard.

Currently, Funny Dumplings is on hiatus until further notice as Endo begins to plan a road tour with a couple of other comedians. Tentatively titled as “Not Your Regular,” he will be traveling with Robert Peng, Abdul Ali, and Cory Lupovici. While he is unsure when — and if — Funny Dumplings will return, if it does, “the dream would be just to have a fun show,” he said. 

The Road Ahead

When asked if he sees himself doing comedy ten years from now, Endo told EnVi, “I definitely see myself doing comedy for the rest of my days. Film has a special place in my heart, but stand up comedy, to me, is the way of life.” His end goal is to commit to comedy full time — and he’ll know he made it when he performs in Madison Square Garden. “Then [I’ll] grab a pizza after the show,” he said. “That’d be the real dream.” 

You can follow Jon Endo on Instagram to keep up with his upcoming tour dates. 

*Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity. 

Interested in reading more of our creative spotlights? Check out EnVi’s interview with artist Vivienne Leow here!