The Very 2020 Ascent of Sarah Cooper

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
Sarah Cooper used to work at Google . Now, she’s about to work for Netflix. Well, sorta. In the kind of topsy-turvy story that could only happen in 2020, the UX designer turned comedian is leveraging the fame she's garnered online during the Covid-19 pandemic to put together a special for the streaming giant. It’s scheduled to premiere this fall—the perfect cap to a whiplash year.

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Truly, when it comes to pop culture, if there’s a more 2020 sentence than “comedian who went viral mocking President Trump on TikTok gets Netflix special,” I don’t know what it is. For those who managed to miss the rise of Cooper, though, here’s some backstory: Cooper used to be a writer and correspondent for the CBS All Access show Old News. She also wrote the books 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings and How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings. She's become a viral sensation during the pandemic for a series of videos wherein she lip-syncs snippets of Trump’s press conferences. The most popular—videos about hydroxychloroquine, “Obamagate,” and the president’s thoughts on the Bible—have received hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. But it was her “How to Medical” video, which spoofed Trump’s comments about injecting disinfectant, that got her national notoriety. From there, it was only a matter of time before she achieved mainstream success.
Following Cooper’s viral hit, she was quickly booked on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and just this week, she served as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live. It’s been an incredible ascent, and one that’s almost tailor made to these times. Comedians have been taking jabs at the president’s public appearances since he took office. But there was something about Trump’s response to the coronavirus that really lent itself to parody. Cooper’s videos effortlessly tapped into that, all while utilizing TikTok’s wildly popular formats and providing laughs for people locked up in quarantine. Her videos couldn’t have been more right, and right on time.