Aiming to become the first-ever Japanese cast member of Saturday Night Live is a tough enough challenge for a young stand-up comedian trying to make it big in the United States.

It’s even tougher when a global pandemic comes along.

“I was doing at least 10 shows a week, mainly at comedy clubs in Chicago,” says Saku Yanagawa, a 28-year-old stand-up comedian from Nara Prefecture who has been performing in English in the U.S. and other countries since 2014.