Blaire Erskine is not a politician’s daughter. Or the Costco guy’s wife.

The Atlanta comedian discusses becoming internet famous for her deadpan spoofs of 2020 tropes

Blaire Erskine
Blaire Erskine enjoys a normal cup of coffee at the Silver Skillet.

Photograph by Audra Melton

I grew up on a dirt road in Ellaville, Georgia. It’s literally one red light and one restaurant that sells pizza called “The Pizza Place.” No one there ever talked about politics because there was this understanding that everyone was on the same team. My English literature teacher was Jimmy Carter’s niece, and she was, like, the town’s only Democrat.

I was a theater kid, and I wanted to live in “the big city,” so in 2011, I moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University. I got into the improv scene, and then in 2017, I took an all-female standup class at the Punchline. I was scared, but after doing open mics for six months, I started getting booked at clubs around the city. Then, the pandemic hit.

I couldn’t perform onstage, so I started making these videos for my friends. One night in July, I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a trending news story about a Costco customer who went on this wild rant after being asked to wear a mask.

I read that he was married, and I was like, No. Really? I had the idea to make a video based on what I thought his wife would be like. I posted the video online, and it completely blew up. Some people thought I was being serious, that I was really this guy’s wife. Since then, I’ve played Brian Kemp’s daughter, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Matt Lieberman’s daughter, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s niece, and Congressman Tom Cotton’s wife. Even now, there are people who really think I am these women.

Men in politics, you don’t hear a lot from the women in their lives. Tom Cotton, for example: His wife doesn’t talk in his ads. She doesn’t have a presence online. It’s like that for a lot of the wives and daughters. I try to give these women a voice to shine a light on men’s bad behavior.

I also find character inspiration in all the insane headlines of 2020, like a woman whose husband is a QAnon conspiracy theorist or a woman who insists she’s still an undecided voter. I get a lot of messages from women who are very liberal but grew up in conservative strongholds, and they say, I could never explain the way these people think, but you’ve put it into words.

I’m not the only comic doing “crazy Southern woman,” but I am one of the only ones who grew up in it, and I try not to base the characters on stereotypes. It’s more than just slapping on a Southern accent and saying something insane.

I know I wouldn’t have this level of popularity if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, not only because it’s given me a lot of material but because people are online all the time. In September, Malcolm Gladwell retweeted one of my videos and said, “Blaire never disappoints!” I was like, Just wait! I can disappoint! Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, has become my internet friend. Stacey Abrams reached out to say she was a fan, and I produced a guttural scream.

I think a lot about when 9/11 happened and Jon Stewart was hosting The Daily Show. The first episode that aired afterward, he gave this beautiful, emotional speech, and, at the same time, he was still able to be funny. I think we look for people who can consume upsetting news and regurgitate it in a way that takes the sharpness out of it and makes it easier to process. It’s not about saying, It’s going to be okay. Instead, it’s, We’re all in this together.

This article appears in our December 2020 issue.