When Joe Biden gets sworn in as the next president of the United States, it seems highly likely that current president Donald Trump—an infamously sore loser—will skip the event, breaking a tradition that outgoing presidents have adhered to for decades. But Sarah Cooper, the comedian who quickly rose to fame thanks to her viral lip syncs of 45, has a solution.
“If they need me to stand in for him, I’m happy to do that,” Cooper said in a recent phone call, chatting straight from bed in her Brooklyn home. “I think we all know that Trump won’t be at the inauguration.”
In the last six months, the comedian has become one of Trump’s best-known lampooners, thanks to her lip syncs of some of his most cringeworthy sound bites. Her videos went viral on TikTok and, when cross-posted to Twitter, have accrued millions of views, earning her a devoted fan base, millions of social media followers, and plum appearances on daytime and late-night shows. That success led her all the way to a Netflix comedy special, the recently released Everything’s Fine, which stars Cooper as a beleaguered news anchor trying to keep it together despite the mountain of horrifying headlines bearing down on her.
The special, directed by Natasha Lyonne, features a stacked lineup of guest performers, including Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Ben Stiller, and Winona Ryder. It also features an appearance from Helen Mirren, who stars in the special’s crown jewel: a lip sync reenactment of Trump’s lewd Access Hollywood conversation with Billy Bush. Cooper mimics Trump and Mirren gamely mimics Bush, leaning in to the TV host’s lascivious energy and leering her way around the bus. “She was just amazing to work with,” Cooper said of the Oscar winner. The pair endlessly rehearsed their lip sync on Zoom before coming to the set and fully getting into character. “When we got on the bus, she was snapping the towel and just really getting into it…she was able to bring the creepiness level even further.”
Cooper loved the dichotomy of the beloved dame tackling such a wicked part. “[Mirren] was kind of the perfect person to play someone who has so few morals in that moment,” she said, crediting Lyonne for the casting coup. “I think that’s where the humor comes in. You have this Shakespearean actress, she has such an amazing command of every part of her body—and she’s playing this worthless human being.”
Her lip syncing videos transformed Cooper from an ex-Google employee to a comedian with enough clout to chew scenery with Dame Helen Mirren, all in just a few short months. Thanks to the special, Cooper is now friendly with stars like Lyonne and Rudolph. (“We text all the time.”) She gets pep talks from Whoopi Goldberg and fields messages from Stiller and Ryder. And with the special in her rearview, she’s concentrating on her upcoming CBS sitcom, an adaptation of her book How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings. The show will focus on the sexism in the workplace, following three women at different stages in their careers and exploring how each of them deal with those uncomfortable moments.
“There’s no one right or wrong way to deal with that,” Cooper said. “I had sexist experiences at work and I didn’t say anything because I just didn’t know what to say in the moment. And that’s okay. I’m excited to explore that and reflect that experience back to women, because a lot of times I think we get judged for not calling things out and not doing the right thing. And you just never know. Sometimes you’re just in shock.”
Cooper is nearly finished with the pilot, which she’s cowriting the pilot with Cindy Chupack (late of Sex and the City and Modern Family). Whether she’ll appear in the show herself is still up in the air, but the comedian is thrilled that she’s able to bring her book to life in a new way. “I guess I have to thank Trump for that,” she said sarcastically.
In case it’s not clear: Cooper despises Trump, a fact that complicates her upward trajectory. “My success is forever linked to this person that I absolutely hate,” she recently told the New York Times. It’s no surprise, then, that she’s ready to stop doing lip syncs of the current president, especially now that he lost reelection. But don’t expect to see her doing lip syncs of President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris in Trump’s stead. Though she’d mulled over the possibility, Cooper says they don’t offer the same comedic appeal as Trump.
“His words are so empty, whereas with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, I feel like they say what they mean and mean what they say. So I don’t think that there’s a lot that I can do there,” she said. “But I am kind of itching to do Boris Johnson”—the U.K.’s Trumpian prime minister.
Considering how far and wide her Trump videos have spread, it’s practically a given that Cooper’s next impression would be an instant hit with her fans. Still, her newfound fame has been surreal. The Netflix special, the network sitcom, the friendships with household icons—Cooper is still metabolizing all of it, day by day.
“You never really get used to it,” she said. “You’re always just like, Oh, my God—is this really happening? Because then you go back to your life. I’m still working out of a WeWork. I’m still at home. I’m in bed right now!” she added, laughing. “I’m still just living my life and trying to make the most out of what’s been a really amazing year for my career.”
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