After being featured at the Democratic convention Cooper continues the humor-free antics.
Netflix appears to be on a mission to kill off comedy as it has been accepted. In 2018 there was excessive hype surrounding the release of the stand-up special starring the Australian comedian Hanah Gadsby, entitled ‘’Nanette’’. It was hailed as a groundbreaking, revolutionary performance, largely due to the fact that it was not humorous. Gadsby was, ”venting her rage and pain about being a woman, being gay, about homophobia,’’ described The Guardian, as well as ”institutionalized misogyny, and more, all the while deconstructing comedy itself.’’
What she was not was funny. Really what this performance amounted to was a Ted Talk, one in which Gadsby spent quite a bit of time at the microphone lecturing the audience on how bad they were. In this light the newest offering on the streaming platform, ”Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine’’ is a bit different in that there is at least the attempt at humor. I think. The whole thing feels like we are being told something is hilarious, but never being shown the hilarity.
I first noticed Cooper during a segment at the Democratic convention, when a video of her lip-syncing a Donald Trump speech was shown. Cooper would gesture dramatically and mug for the camera, while mouthing the audio of a Trump monologue. It took me a while before I realized this was being positioned as a comedic bit. Cooper it turns out had become something of a hit with a series of Tik Tok videos of this exact nature; Netflix describes her as the, ‘’Trump lip-synching sensation’’.
Look, we get it — humor is subjective. But you can also recognize when something is subjectively unfunny. Even if you find these videos initially mirthful after a time it would wear thin. What you get is, quite literally, a one-note performance. It has been commented that repetition is the death of art; when it comes to comedy repetition is a death-sentence. This is experienced in the attempt to translate Cooper’s niche performances into a full hour of content. Well, 49 minutes.
Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine is now on Netflix and it's going to be a *great* day 🌞
— Netflix Is A Joke (@NetflixIsAJoke) October 27, 2020
The premise here is that Cooper is the hostess of a morning talk show, named ”Everything’s Fine’’, and a series of skits plays out as a result. Throughout the show Cooper only selects targets on the right, primarily the President, and you get the sense she has been elevated to a level of notoriety as a direct result. It feels like her decided liberal audience likes her for aiming at Trump, and other conservative figures, and they thus insist that she is funny.
Her being tabbed for the Democrat convention led to a string of celebrities appearing in cameos on the program. Ben Stiller, Whoopie Goldberg, Winona Ryder, Maya Rudolph, are just a few of the names littering the credits. Jon Hamm appears as the My Pillow founder in a deeply forced skit, and Marisa Tomei is completely wasted near the muddled ending as The Devil. Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen appears throughout as the producer, but all he does is react for the camera while displaying an ever-evolving display of Covid safety devices. After a time you don’t laugh with him but you do feel sorry for what he is going through as a performer.
The enterprise feels like a, ”Hey, we don’t like Trump, am I right?!’’ hoedown, because that is the entirety of the content. Just like her lip-synch segments, everything shares a common target, but nothing is actually fired. It would be something else if there was some insight behind the jabs, if the segments were filled with critiques that were revelatory or satire that took a bite out of the sacred cow. Instead these bits feel as if they settled on an idea and then high-fived each other in agreement…but did not take things anywhere beyond.
Sarah Cooper’s routines feel like a performance version of never-Trump activism; the belief is that simply opposing Trump is enough to justify things. The opposition is made clear, and then it is repeated, as if that is the entire goal. Content is not at all important. I guess that is enough for those on the left these days. If you loved that time Cooper lip-syncs to a Trump speech for 30 seconds then you will love the 15th time she does the exact same thing, and then you will love nearly an hour of this same type of delivery.
If you are not the type to be bowled over by someone mouthing the words of the President however, then merely making it to the end of the promotional trailer will be a tough task.