In the book “Statusmachrichten” by the Austrian author Stefanie Sargnagel there is a cartoon in which a Kipferl (the Austrian equivalent of a croissant) gets good advice – from a cup. “Just be yourself”, says the cup, and the croissant answers confused: “A croissant”?
The American comedian Sarah Cooper doesn’t have to advise anyone to be themselves. The American became world famous in the spring when she posted a short video on Tik-Tok imitating Donald Trump. The sound came from the US President and Sarah Cooper did the facial expressions very skillfully. In the numerous videos that followed the first, she doesn’t pretend to be Trump. In her imitation, she is still herself, Sarah Cooper, moving her lips to the US President’s latest nonsense. The videos are cathartic for her, says Sarah Cooper in an interview with the SZ.
In the new 49-minute Netflix special Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine it is therefore surprising that the usual Cooper minimalism is missing. A multitude of characters appear, played not only by Sarah Cooper, but also by Jon Hamm, Ben Stiller, Maya Rudolph and Winona Ryder. Cooper himself is a kind of framework story as a TV presenter who is slowly losing her nerve in view of the world situation and above all the political situation in the USA. Guests or members of their team can have their say in various telephone switches and clips. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, for example, gives tips on the coronavirus workout with the cognac swivel in her hand, a pillow specialist is promoting his corona vaccination, Ben Stiller plays a robot who has allegations of sexual harassment on his neck. And Whoopi Goldberg tells something about the origin of “Karens” (often used synonymously in the USA for white, self-righteous, somewhat racist women) in the time of the founding fathers. In between, “the President” turns on from time to time in videos and gives Sarah Cooper the opportunity to take on her star role: as a mimic substitute for Donald Trump.
It all sounds funny. But why isn’t it?
Perhaps because the “Special” (which looks a bit like the sketches in a row on a late-night show, only without the “Talk”) has two problems from the start. First: Everything’s Fine can’t decide whether it wants to be a Best-Of-Trump-Tik-Tok, the parody of American breakfast television, or at least teleshopping satire.
Of course there are moments, like the one with Jon Hamm, that makes you laugh. But that’s less because of the script than the fact that Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men played the over-man of the 20th century and now with a huge mustache as the stupid Dr. Pillow comes into the picture. Similarly, when Winona Ryder shows her best side again – the one on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
But the greater difficulty of Everything’s Fine: Much effort is being put into putting the sociopolitical demarcation lines that the Trump administration is tightening – black versus white, woman versus man, poor versus rich, facts versus conspiracy theories, powerlessness versus power – into a humorous light. Too much effort that is absurdly at odds with the actual weight of the problems addressed and the effects on the present. “Bring on the heavy stuff, we’ll make something out of it,” one might have said to oneself. The result is not a subtle satire like the one with which Cooper became famous, but fooling around. (All right, star-studded dumbbells, that’s Dame Helen Mirren in the new edition of the “Grab ’em by the pussy” video).
But in addition to an annoyed “I got it”, the audience’s main question is whether comedy is always a good instrument to deal with crises. Especially since it felt like more than half a year has passed in the past six Corona months. Sarah Cooper addresses this phenomenon at the beginning of Everything’s Fine even when she says you feel like you will have aged 14 years in six months. A side effect of this feeling: What was still shocking in the spring is no longer worth mentioning. Humor is no exception and corona jokes age badly accordingly.
A total of 12 authors contributed to these 49 minutes, and one wonders how much of Sarah Cooper herself is in it, who at the beginning of the year had just as easily presented her ideas to the pandemic as the baker had the croissants. Calm, effortless, almost by the way. And only because of this incidental: so funny.
Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine, Netflix.