WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
When Amy Miller talks about losing friends in the comedy world during the coronavirus, she doesn't necessarily mean to the virus itself.
"I really worry about a lot of comedians I know," the comic says, discussing the impact of the pandemic on the standup scene. "If you don't have that outlet, you don't have that adrenaline rush, and you don't have this close-knit community of people you see all the time, it can get very, very dark."
She apologizes for bringing up suicide in a casual conversation, but she figures Portland can handle it. ("It's what you're known for," she says.) She knows the city well, or well enough: In the three years she lived here, Miller—an Oakland, Calif., native—basically conquered the local comedy scene, topping WW's inaugural Funniest Five poll in 2013.
She moved to L.A. four years ago, where she's built up a résumé of acting gigs and voice-over work. She's also kept doing standup, and misses it, too—though she says her own depression and anxiety are manageable compared to other performers she knows. It's a bummer for everyone else as well: While many comics are just now waking up to social justice issues, it's been part of Miller's act since she started—sometimes to the detriment of her career.
"I've always been in a place where if I did lose work for being outspoken about things I care about and I believe are right, so be it," she says. "I'd rather do this job with integrity than have not alienating people be my first goal."
WW talked to Miller about using comedy to respond to this moment in history, the awkward process of auditioning while in quarantine, and what she misses about Portland—or, rather, what she doesn't.
"I always tell people, it's a great place to visit," she laughs. "Go for three days. Don't accidentally stay for three years."
See more Distant Voices interviews here.