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Comedian Mohanad Elshieky Seems Almost Shocked by How Long He Can Go Doing Absolutely Nothing

The formerly Portland-based comic is spending quarantine watching “Law & Order,” doing standup for his cats and writing jokes about the coronavirus for Samantha Bee.

This week, WW is launching "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

Mohanad Elshieky went to New York to work in television. Now he's mostly just watching it.

He plowed through a whole season of Ozark in a day, and is chipping away at Law & Order—all 20 seasons of it. And yes, he has seen the tiger show.

"It's one documentary where there's literally not a good person in sight," says the Libya-born comic, who quickly built his résumé in Portland before being hired to write for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee last year. "How bad do you have to be for me to be like, 'I think the tigers are the heroes, and I hope they eat someone'?"

Related: Mohanad Elshieky Started Telling Jokes at a Radio Station in Benghazi. Now He's Got a Shot on "Conan."

But while he seems somewhat shocked to discover just how long he can go doing nothing, it hasn't just been all snacking and binge-watching for Elshieky. His main gig writing for Full Frontal's digital platform requires him to react almost instantaneously to the day's news—which, these days, means writing jokes about the coronavirus at a time when everyone is writing jokes about the coronavirus, and doing it before anyone else.

"Everyone wants to get the joke first," he says. "There's a press conference, Jared Kushner is speaking, he's a weird guy, we need to come up with a fresh angle. By the time the press conference is over, we have to have something out."

WW Editor-in-Chief Mark Zusman caught up with Elshieky to talk about how COVID-19 is affecting humor, the differences between quarantining in New York versus Portland, and doing standup for his cats. And, of course, there is more discussion of Tiger King.

Related: Border Patrol Interrogated Portland Comedian Mohanad Elshieky at a Greyhound Station in Spokane: "They Kept Repeating the Word 'Illegals.'"