As Both a Comedian and Teacher, Katie Nguyen Is Feeling Doubly Disconnected by Life in Quarantine

Nguyen talks about the challenges of teaching through a screen, and the existential struggle of exercising during a pandemic.

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.

COVID-19 has robbed Katie Nguyen of two stages.

First, it took standup away from her. The comic, who co-hosted the popular weekly Earthquake Hurricane in the Before Times, managed to shift to online gigs and teaching virtual classes for Helium, but the experience of getting a roomful of people to laugh at something you said is not easily replicated through a screen.

And neither is educating a class of high schoolers.

Nguyen's other gig, teaching Spanish language arts in St. Johns, has also been severely upended by the pandemic. But she knows she's not the only one going through an adjustment period.

"I feel a very urgent need to adapt," she says. "I'm in this mode where we have to figure out how to do this online…It's been really difficult, but I feel a real urgent need to do a good job at it because I know students are struggling and families are struggling. We're all trying to hold each other up right now"

In this conversation with WW Arts & Culture editor Matthew Singer, Nguyen talks about the challenges of teaching through a screen, how life in a worldwide health crisis might change comedy, and the existential struggle of exercising in quarantine.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.

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