If we’re looking for a silver lining around the toilet of a situation that is 2020 then it has to be some of the brilliant comedy that has emerged over the past few months. It’s an old truism that when the going gets tough, the tough start joking and some of the memes and videos that have filled our social media feeds since everything went tits up have given me faith that humans are every bit as wonderful as they are, at times, awful. And that’s an important thing to remember. These are my top picks of things that will make you laugh instead of cry and feel heartened by good folk doing funny stuff to make us all feel better.
The Trump Impersonator
Sarah Cooper is an American comedienne who has gainfully used her lockdown time (which in the States just rolls on and on) to film clips of herself lip synching Trump’s recent speeches. If you thought it sounded dumb coming directly from him, wait till you hear it again from her lips. The beauty of this satire is its simplicity and how effortlessly she is about to illustrate what a preposterous knucklehead he is simply by repeating him. The videos are made on Tiktok – no production team, no live studio audience, just one woman, in her house, mimicking the POTUS – and it’s absolute genius.
She might be new to many of us but Sarah has honed her ability to expose people for talking nonsense over many years. After working at Google as a UX designer, she wrote a book called How to Appear Smarter in Meetings that outlined all the daft things that people do in the corporate world to make themselves seem clever even when they have no clue what they’re on about. She followed it up with another career bible How To Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings in 2018 but 2020 really belongs to her and these excellent send ups of the biggest chump of our times.
The Local Hero
A surprise hit on the homefront is our very own, deeply wonderful Hilz Baz. The tiara wearing, tent-dwelling, scone-making gem of a Kiwi has held us together during some of the wobbly moments and churned out some comedy gold in the process. She generously offered us a cautionary tale of what happens when our camera angle is too low and bravely let us glimpse her own cognitive spiralling as she developed an unhealthy obsession over a pot plant. Even now that we’re allowed out and about again she keeps serving up the lols in case we still need them. This little nugget from earlier in the week where she couldn’t do up the back buttons on her own shirt was yet another wee gift from a woman who really could rival Ashley for New Zealander of the Year.
The Drinking Buddies
I don’t know if you’ve already watched the Netflix movie Wine Country, about a bunch of female friends who head to the Napa Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday and, whilst there, open up about their messy lives over a few bottles of good vino. It got mixed reviews when it came out in March last year and to be perfectly frank it was a flawed piece of art that tried hard but fell short on a few occasions.
But for people who hail Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, Maya Rudolph and all the great ladies of SNL as their comic heroes it was still a joy to see them getting trashed together. If you don’t already love these hilarious women then I feel it’s not for you, and in which case nor will be the video that I’m about to recommend. If you’re willing to forgive them the odd bum note because you’re just so happy to see them in any shape or form, on the other hand, then have a watch of their ‘Happy Hour’ video on youtube that they pulled together to raise funds for Feeding America. Basically it’s just them having the classic zoom call where everyone talks over each other and part way through there’s a technical malfunction that means one person gets muted and everyone has to go away and come back later. It’s not life-changing but it’s nice to feel like you might have joined them for a drink in their living rooms.
In April, Canadian comedienne Julie Nolke made a pitch perfect video where her ‘Four Months into the Future self’ stopped by to let her ‘January self’ know that a whole bunch of crap was going to hit the fan. Due to the “butterfly effect” she wasn’t able to reveal the details but warned her to take all her money out of the stock market, start taking vitamins and maybe think about getting a dog. It accentuated just how mad everything had got and how unlikely it would all have seemed to us if we’d been told earlier in the year about what lay ahead. She’s since followed it up with a Part 2, where her ‘June self’ shows up to school her smug ‘April self’ about even more craziness that is coming her way. It made me laugh out loud but also wonder, honestly, where will it all end?