While late-night comedians may be chafing under the constrictions of the coronavirus pandemic — having no live audience is a challenge — many comedians who use social media as their primary medium are thriving.
Take actor-comedian Maria DeCotis, who recently posted a brief skit to Twitter in which she plays New York Governor Andrew Cuomo talking about his daughter Mariah’s boyfriend. DeCotis plays all three characters, lip-syncing to Cuomo’s bumbling speech about how fathers have to pretend to like their daughters’ boyfriends.
— Maria DeCotis (@MariaDeCotis) May 1, 2020
Since DeCotis posted the clip on May 1st, it’s been viewed more than 1 million times, with praise and retweets from the likes of Padma Lakshmi, Mike Birbiglia, Alec Baldwin and Stephen Colbert.
“I was so surprised by how much attention it got,” DeCotis tells Rolling Stone. “I think the most flattering was being retweeted by Stephen Colbert and other comedians and actors and journalists that I admire. Lisa Ann Walter, from The Parent Trap, shared and commented on my video and I was in shock. I rented The Parent Trap from Blockbuster literally every single time my mom took me. I rented the same movie over and over again. I thought, ‘Do I want to see something new? Or just watch the best movie of all time again?'”
DeCotis says she was inspired to make the video after watching Cuomo good-naturedly bumble through an April 19th news briefing. “He started to go on this tangent about his daughter’s boyfriend. I thought it was riveting. I couldn’t take my eyes off him,” she says. “He just kept digging himself deeper and deeper into this hole. It was hilarious! I have a sort of affinity for him because I come from an Italian family and his mannerisms and demeanor remind me a lot of my own father.”
There’s been a recent uptick in TikToks and Twitter videos in which comedians lip-sync to politicians — especially Trump — and DeCotis decided to try that method out for herself. She has since followed up the first video with another clip of Cuomo talking about his daughter and another in which the governor’s fictional girlfriend has him rate his performance (that one takes more liberties with context).
A New Yorker, DeCotis is currently self-isolating, and she says making these videos provides her with a way to make it through the daily drag. “It has been difficult, but I remind myself of the frontline workers who risk their lives every day,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to have a roof over my head, I received my stimulus check, still waiting on unemployment, but I have my physical health and that’s all I can ask for right now.
“I just ordered some rollerskates so I’m super excited about that! I’m trying to take my mind off this crisis by focusing on creating and taking breaks out in the sun — when there is some,” she adds.
As for whether or not the Cuomo family is aware of her videos, DeCotis hasn’t heard anything to suggest as much. “I was hoping Governor Cuomo would see it and it would give him a good laugh, but I don’t want anything else from him — except maybe my unemployment money,” she quips.
Governor Cuomo appeared on the April issue of Rolling Stone. In the cover story interview, Cuomo explained how he differs from his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo: “My father communicated aspiration, but he did it in a formal sense. He did not speak personally, in terms of himself or his family or his life or his experiences. He was a formal speaker. The expression I used to use was: He’s a big-room speaker. He’s a podium speaker. He spoke to large audiences, right? That was his art form. He would not talk about family experiences the way I’ve spoken about them here.”