How do you go from being a full-time UX designer at Google to having your own comedy special in Netflix?
This is the story of Sarah Cooper.
Sarah grew up loving performing as a child growing up in Rockville Maryland. So much so that she originally wanted to study theatre in college. But when she realized that she couldn’t really make money from it, she pursued in degree in Economics and eventually Digital Design.
She began her career in Yahoo as a designer. Around age 30, however, she realized that she still missed acting. And that she owed it to herself to give it a proper shot. So she began the process of auditioning. Over and over.
She was mostly unsuccessful.
This was when she tried stand up comedy. With stand-up, she realized that she could be herself instead of being another character. She loved this and so she kept at it. However, pursuing a career in stand-up comedy was expensive. And so she took up a day job as a UX designer in Google. While writing and doing stand up most nights.
In 2014, she combined her corporate life and her love for stand up comedy to write a blog post called “10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings”. The post went viral with 5 million views. Seeing its success she published a book “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings”.
She also took a leap of faith. She quit her job at Google to pursue writing and stand up full time.
2020 changes everything
Without a job, Sarah published two more books while doing stand-up. The books did well but not as well as she wanted. She had also written a couple of TV pilots and sent them to agents but didn’t get any calls back. Her stand-up career had also hit a plateau.
She was frustrated and in 2019, 5 years after she had quit her job at Google, she thought she might have to give up on her entertainment career.
Then the pandemic happened. Events were almost canceled overnight. With comedy clubs closed, Sarah was forced to try out something new. What she did try would change her life forever.
She lip synced snippets of Trump’s ‘Pandemic Press Conferences’ for Tik-Tok.
The video immediately gained traction so she kept making more.
The Commander-In-Chief’s thoughts about hydroxychloroquine, “Obamagate” and the Bible all became fodder for her lip syncs. But it was her “How to Medical” video, which spoofed Trump’s comments about injecting disinfectant, that really brought her the national spotlight. By mid-2020, “How to Medical” had received over 24 million views across Twitter and TikTok.
It’s success, quickly gained her spots on almost all major talk shows like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Ellen.
And in August of 2020, she even guest-hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Sarah’s Success Secret?
Why did the Tik-Toks see such success? Sarah thinks it’s something about hearing Trump’s voice coming out of her mouth stripped of all the things that usually accompanied it. No suits or podiums or camera crews or people calling him ‘sir’.
“And all that was left were his empty words”, says Sarah.
This meteoric rise culminated with the premiere of her Netflix special, “Everything’s Fine” on October 27th. The special produced by Natasha Lyon and Maya Rudolph (two of Sarah’s heroes) is a satire that “tackles race, politics and other light topics”.
It also features a star-studded lineup with cameos from Helen Mirren, Ben Stiller, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Megan Thee Stallion, Marisa Tomei and Winona Ryder. Not bad for someone who thought she had no hope in show biz a mere 8 months ago.
So what does Sarah herself have to say about her success? She says, “It’s been a really interesting process of just trying things and giving up and trying another thing and giving up again and trying another thing and then finally something working…”
“…And now I have so many opportunities that I’ve been looking for my whole life. You always think that you’re too old. And the thing is, you’re never too old. If you still have a passion for something, you should still be doing it.”
Aye aye, Comedian-in-Chief.