Mr. Nice Guy: Meet Hank Chen

Article by: Robert Dean

Life hasn't always worked on a straight line for Hank Chen, and he's okay with the peaks and valleys that present themselves. 

Currently, the comedian and actor is letting the chips fall as they may because while the road might not be predictable, the wins are stacking up, even though he named his recent comedy special I'm Not Supposed to be Here.


Currently living in Los Angeles but with stops in Chicago and New York, Chen grew up in Washington, D.C.. 

His path to comedy wasn't immediately jumping on stage at the Laugh Factory, but instead, it took an unexpected detour: at a strict religious college. 

"I went to Wheaton College; it was the school that everyone at my church knew. Everyone was so excited I was accepted there. Wheaton is the Harvard of Christian colleges. So, I was like, of course, I have to go." 

But while at Wheaton, Chen realized the lauded halls of Christian mythology weren't for him, "Your path is your path. I got into grad school for acting. I moved to New York. When I was at Wheaton, I knew I wasn't building toward my future, I knew I wasn't learning anything."


One of the crucial subjects he leaned into while on his educational journey was sociology, which helped him understand the human nature of crafting jokes. 

"Comedy is about observation, it's about taking what we see, and holding it up as a mirror. I'm all for freedom of speech. As a minority, I've seen and heard everything. Nothing shocks me, but things bore me. The goal is to make people laugh, but don't bore me. That's all I ask." 


Chen’s comedy touches on the immigrant experience and all the things that come with parents who aim high for their kids, even ones who have comedy specials and acting careers with impressive resumes. 

A lover of the all-American sitcom, Chen would be a good character for a vehicle with an ever-present cast in the vein of Friends or the like, he’s just got that wholesome vibe to him.  


Chen is deliberate with his words and thoughts, and it's easy to see why he became a comedian. 

Speaking with him, his humanity shines through rather than just offering rapid-fire answers, trying to get the interview over as some comedians are all too comfortable doing since most of their people skills are lacking when not onstage. 

Coming at the jokes with a specific viewpoint, Chen's been working stages consistently since 2017, but he's also appeared on shows like Lopez and Bluebloods. He even did Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. (I forgot to ask if he met Ice T.)  

Chen also had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with the legendary comedian Robin Williams on his last film, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, which for anyone would be a never forget moment. “It was amazing to do a side-by-side scene with him.”


What works about Chen's comedy is that it's inward, always making a joke of the moment while never relying on the seriousness of the world to act as a governor, but instead, using the ridiculous as a barometer of what's happening around us. 

When asked what makes him happy, Chen was reflective, "I love lazy weekends with my boyfriend. I love working. I love having a job, doing film and TV, doing standup. I adore the proxy family unit when we're making something together (on a set) to strive toward this collective goal. I love the teamwork formed, everyone trying to create this finished product, that final thing. That makes me happy."


Throughout his journey as an actor and comedian, the stories, and jokes on I Shouldn’t be Here are relatable, honest, and well-crafted. 

It's easy to like Hank Chen, so his comedy should be something you'll like, too. Check the special out here.
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