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Comedian Maria DeCotis pokes fun at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's briefings in viral video

She said the governor's words and gestures reminded her of her Italian dad.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maria DeCotis
DeCotis says she has "a sort of affinity" for Gov. Andrew Cuomo because "his mannerisms and demeanor" remind her of her own father.Getty Images / Maria DeCotis
/ Source: TODAY

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been giving daily briefings since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and sometimes he's been known to get a little personal, talking candidly about being quarantined with his three adult daughters. Now, one viewer is seeing comedy gold in the governor's revelations and her hilarious video poking fun at him has since gone viral.

Maria DeCotis, an actor and comedian originally from Atlanta but who now lives in New York City, saw Gov. Cuomo’s April 19 briefing when he went off on a tangent about his daughter and her boyfriend and knew she wanted to do something with it.

Cuomo, 62, has three daughters with ex-wife Kerry Kennedy — 25-year-old twins Cara and Mariah, and Michaela, 22. "The answer on what you think of the boyfriend is always, 'I like the boyfriend,'” Cuomo advised fathers, speaking of Mariah's boyfriend, Tellef Lundevall, 29 who was staying at the governor's mansion at the beginning of the lockdown.

“I thought it was riveting,” DeCotis, 28, told TODAY. “I couldn't take my eyes off him. 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.

"I knew I wanted to do a video based off that part of his briefing but I didn't know exactly how to do it. There's this trend on TikTok of people taking audio from other sources and lip-synching it. I saw Sarah Cooper do it with Trump and it inspired me to try that kind of angle that I hadn't before. It was so fun to work with a kind of script and voice that was already there, because I usually write my own.”

DeCotis, who earned her BFA in acting from Boston University and studied commedia dell'arte in Italy has done film, TV, stand-up, a one-woman show, “a plethora of odd survival jobs” and opened for Mike Birbiglia on Broadway since moving to the city in 2015. But this video, which currently has 1.5 million views on Twitter, has garnered her the most attention, winning rave reviews and retweets from Stephen Colbert, Padma Lakshmi, Chrissy Teigen and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“I love receiving comments about people watching it multiple times and getting a much needed laugh,” said DeCotis. “I think it’s so important to keep laughing throughout all this. Comedy is essential in that way. It’s healing to laugh.”

DeCotis edited the video herself, which features her playing three different roles, and the quick cuts contribute to the comedy. “I’m a one-woman production company,” she said. She has since produced several more "Breaking News" episodes on her YouTube channel in which she sends up the governor's briefings.

As to why so many people have related to her video, DeCotis has a theory.

“I thought it was a particularly humanizing moment coming through and I wanted to examine that vulnerable little break down he had,” she said. “Regardless of your politics, I just wanted to focus on that little explosion of humanity he had during his briefing and hopefully create something anyone could relate to: insecurity, jealousy, protectiveness. It was a key-in to his emotions.”

DeCotis hasn’t gotten a response on the video from the governor himself, but that’s fine by her.

“I saw that his secretary Melissa DeRosa liked it on Twitter and his daughter Mariah also liked it, and today his sister Maria commented on it on Twitter,” she said. “So I know it's been around him. I was hoping Gov. Cuomo would see it and it would give him a good laugh, but I don't want anything else from him, except maybe a rent freeze. I just wanted to give him a reason to laugh since he's been working every single day nonstop for almost three months.”