Meet Blaire Erskine, the MAGA-Spoofing Comedian Who Duped Michael Moore
Blaire Erskine has pretended to be a stranded MAGA supporter, Jerry Falwell’s daughter, and the wife of a notorious anti-masker. The gag: How many folks think her satires are real.
As we’re talking over Zoom, Blaire Erskine steals a few glances at her phone. She’s not being rude. In truth, it would be crazier not to look over at the fireworks show of notifications as they rapidly light up.
Filmmaker Michael Moore had just retweeted her most recent comedy video. It’s flattering, if a little frustrating. Like many people before him who should know better (hi, Katie Couric), he thought the video was real, in this case that she was one of the actual Trump supporters left stranded in the cold after his Omaha rally last week, talking about how Tom Hanks is “in Greece being a pedophile” and that the president is teaching his voters a lesson by leaving them to freeze. “What was that lesson? That’s not really for me to know, and that’s actually pretty nasty of you to ask.”
“How did Trump win? If we have to keep asking then we don’t get the commitment of his voters. Tens of millions of them will vote Tues.,” Moore tweeted. “They’d walk ‘750 miles’ in the freezing cold ‘just to hear him speak.’ I wouldn’t do that to hear Bernie, Biden or JC himself. THAT’s how they win.”
That Moore was duped by Erskine’s video would become its own news story over the weekend, illustrating why the comedy clips that the Georgia-based comedian creates are so brilliant. She’s played the wife of a man who threw a tantrum after refusing to wear a mask at Costco, Jerry Falwell’s daughter reacting to her parents’ kinky sex life, one half of a MAGA couple who refuses to cancel Halloween celebrations because of COVID, and Amy Coney Barrett’s daughter defending her mom for hating women.
Each video exposes the lunacy of what the Karens and MAGAs of the world say as part of the logic gymnastics they perform to justify Trump and the Republican Party’s actions. The dialogue is both utterly outrageous but also so believable, based on what we’ve seen from the rants these people have posted to social media themselves, that so many liberals, Moore included, assume they’re real.
“I didn’t mean for any of this to be like a social experiment at all,” Erskine says, speaking from her home in Atlanta. “But it has been. People like Michael Moore and people like Katie Couric, who last night retweeted it being like, 'Is this real?' These are journalists who I respected and still do. But, you know, critical thinking is like down here.”
Part of her success has meant fielding the torrent of hate and nastiness from people who don’t know that it’s satire, which confuses her—if you just click on her Twitter profile from those videos, you’d see in her bio that she’s a comedian—but also makes sense in a culture that has so normalized outrage over headlines without reading the full article that Twitter has had to add a feature warning people to stop doing it.
“Emotions are so high right now, and people are just ready to be pissed off at something,” she says. “But it’s been insane to see the number of people who have been fooled by something that I feel is very obviously a parody.”
Erskine, who was a stand-up comedian before the pandemic shut things down, first started making these videos in March. Her first video to go viral was making fun of anti-maskers, in response to the man at a Florida Costco who kept shouting “I feel threatened” to the worker telling him he had to wear a face covering in the store.
She pretended to be the man’s wife, explaining that her family all “has asthma... when it’s convenient” and won’t wear masks. It’s been viewed nearly 6 million times on Twitter, and has over 132,000 likes. “That went super viral because no one knew who I was, and so they thought that I could have been his wife,” she says.
It wasn’t her original plan for videos mocking Karens and Trump supporters to be her “thing,” but growing up in South Georgia, she says the way those people think and speak is embedded in her mind. Now she’s part of a new crop of online comedians who’ve gained popularity making character videos that satirize the extremist politics and fringe views of conservatives, like Kylie Brakeman, Brent Terhune, Randy Rainbow, J-L Cauvin, and, most famously, Trump lipsyncher Sarah Cooper, whose first Netflix special launched last week.
“We hear so much terrible stuff every day, and I feel like people like comedians to consume that and regurgitate it in a way that feels okay to listen to,” Erskine says. “To see someone pretend to be a MAGA head, but you know that they are not psychotic and that they’re on your team, it’s like saying, ‘Yes, this is actually crazy.’ I’m just validating what everybody already knows, but in a way that makes it a little less unsettling.”
Erskine was grappling with a relatable pandemic-induced bout of insomnia when she saw the report that hundreds of Trump supporters were left stranded in freezing temperatures after a rally in Omaha, Nebraska. “I was awake. I had had like two glasses of wine. And I was on Twitter and saw that.”
She jotted down some jokes on the Notes app, went out on her porch with a Ring light, and quickly filmed a video pretending to be a woman who attended the rally and was forced to come up with excuses on behalf of the Trump campaign. She posted the video at around 6 a.m. the next morning. Partly because so many people were duped by it and partly because those who knew it was comedy found it so funny, it exploded.
While there are many online creators who follow up a viral moment like that with a link to other social media platforms to follow them on or even a cash app they can be tipped through, Erskine instead posted a link to donate to Reverend Raphael Warnock’s Senate campaign in Georgia.
In addition to mocking Kelly Loeffler, the Republican who currently holds the seat, in comedy videos, Erskine has filmed explainer videos breaking down the two Georgia Senate races and explaining why it’s so important to get out the vote for Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff. A video she made for Democratic candidates running for the Georgia State House of Representatives helped raise $25,000.
In a space where it’s been historically difficult, and even unwelcome, to merge comedy with political activism, she’s managed to find a lane where it seems natural. Unlike some celebrities and comedians, “I’m just a regular person who’s, like, also poor, and I’m like, ‘Guys, this sucks.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, it does,’” she says. “People are ready and willing and energized to donate money and energy to these politicians. And that’s been so refreshing, because it feels so hopeless sometimes.”
Like anyone working in a political space online, there’s a spectrum of extreme reaction she receives to these videos. It’s liberals, she says, who have been the most vicious. They assume the videos are real and become unhinged in their attacks on her.
“Whenever I post I get a lot of ‘you racist bitch’ messages from people because they think that I support Donald Trump. But once I clear it up, usually they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just mad.’ And I’m like, ‘I get it. I’m mad too.’ But other times they’ll just double down like, ‘I don’t give a fuck.’”
A particular moment of pride happened recently when MC Hammer quote-tweeted her Omaha woman spoof, thinking that it was real and writing “it’s even worse than we thought.” His fans were quick to correct him that Erskine is a comedian, and he eventually deleted the tweet.
“I’m sure it was the first thing he saw when he woke up. Like, I’m sure he was on the toilet looking at Twitter and saw it and was like, ‘This bitch...’ And I understand it,” Erskine says. “It was an honor to be roasted by MC Hammer. And before 8 o’clock in the morning, too.”
Of course, there are also people who do get the joke. Kathy Bates recently slid into her DMs to praise her work, and Lea Thompson is a fan, recently liking Erskine’s tweet that said, “Did Alex Jones eat Joe Rogan’s ass on the pod? Isn’t that his whole thing?” Erskine took a photo of the notification, and it’s now the screensaver on her phone.
It’s still a bit wild for Erskine to comprehend the sudden attention. She’s from a place in South Georgia called Ellaville, a one-stoplight town with one restaurant, named The Pizza Place. She grew up on a sod farm down a dirt road. She had a burning desire to get out of the small town, eventually moving to Atlanta for college, where she started taking improv classes and eventually got into stand-up.
“I think when you just grow up in a really small town and you listen to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Breakaway’ you’re just like, 'Me too!'” she laughs. “I would do that every day, like listen to ‘Breakaway’ and stare out of the window like I’m gonna get there one day. If you haven’t been there, I don’t trust you. If you haven’t listened to ‘Breakaway’ as a child, and like, teared up thinking about fame and fortune.”
The fortune hasn’t come yet, per se, but a little bit of fame has, and a surprisingly happy life. She married her now-husband last week in an outdoor ceremony with just their moms and a few friends, all wearing masks. The only new item of clothing she’s bought since the pandemic began was her wedding dress, she jokes.
The success of her videos has gotten her a manager, and she’s been asked to submit joke packets to a few late-night shows. Her goal is to eventually be a showrunner and write for TV, so these are all positive developments in an otherwise bleak time. In a way, without the pandemic stalling her stand-up career, she would never have pivoted to making these videos. She jokes that I should make “Blaire Erskine Is Grateful for the Pandemic” this article’s headline.
She also jokes that she’s taking the success with a grain of salt because she’s just waiting for her time to be canceled. Not that there are bad tweets in her past or anything. It’s just a phenomenon she thinks is coming for everyone. “I just don’t know what it’ll be for. And that’s gonna be exciting to see. No one knows. Like, I think it’s something I haven’t done yet.”
Maybe this Michael Moore hoopla will play a part in it, she laughs.
“I keep seeing my phone light up and I’m scared about what Michael Moore might have said about me. Not that I’m scared of Michael Moore. I could fight him.” She chuckles again. “You put that in the article, too.”