Boris Johnson has his head stuffed in a pillow, grimacing as he is ordered to get out of bed and have a bath. The prime minister just wants to stay in bed watching old episodes of Bargain Hunt. Why? “Because it’s the only fucking programme I can watch where someone’s not fucking slagging me off, all right?” he says.
It is not Boris Johnson, of course. Although were it not for the West Country accent, you would be forgiven for thinking it was, considering the straw-like mop of hair sticking out from under the pillow and the Kevin & Perry-like demeanour with which the man himself approaches his duties.
It is a sketch by Daisy May Cooper, the co-writer and star of This Country, who has mastered the art of poking fun at government mismanagement so bad you couldn’t make it up it in the course of this lockdown. And this during her “maternity leave”. It is not funny in real life, of course, because we all have to live through it. But to watch Cooper ridicule the government on TikTok is cathartic.
In a video dedicated to the government’s shambolic decision to open schools for one day before going into another full-blown lockdown, she imagines the drawing-board moment. “You know we’re gonna announce lockdown tonight, do you reckon it’s worth announcing it before just so all the kids don’t have to go to school?” she asks, playing a government official. “No,” she responds, playing another baffled government official, “it’s a laugh! … They’ll be rushing around Clarks trying to get their school shoes, and they’ll be going WH Smith getting all their little stationery and their little calculators and rulers – and they’re not even gonna use ’em!” she laughs. “Yeah!” the other one chuckles, managing to convey in a single, deep-throated laugh, all the reckless abandon of a government that has left state schools floundering under its coronavirus response.
The way she edits the videos adds layers of humour. A tiny little microphone that floats by her mouth in multiple videos, that she keeps missing, is a clever touch – a way of making Britain’s incompetent government seem even more so.
But what is so funny about watching her imitate a petulant Johnson, getting all antsy when asked what he’s been doing all day, only to find all he’s done is draw a pair of tits on paper? Perhaps it is because it’s a better explanation for why Johnson put London into lockdown four days before Christmas (after spending the latter part of last year telling everyone they would be able to celebrate together) than the explanation we currently have. That he is just useless at the job.
All hail Cooper, comedy’s quarantine queen.