Jamaican American Comedy Sensation Sarah Cooper Captures Family, Laughter, and Social Media Rise in New Memoir

Comedian and author Sarah Cooper has achieved considerable success in her career. She has a huge following on social media and is the star of the comedy special, “Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine,” on Netflix. Now she has turned her talents to writing a memoir in which she discusses imposter syndrome, divorce, and being the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

The ”Foolish” memoir

Foolish: Tales of Assimilation, Determination, and Humiliation” was released in October 2023. She tells the story of her experiences as the daughter of Jamaican immigrants and the surreal nature of her success in comedy. She describes the singular moment she discovered she was Black. She was walking home with her best friend, who told her that one of the kids at school had called her an N-word lover. She asked why they would ask that, and her friend said because her best friend was Black. Cooper said, “I thought I was your best friend,” and she said, “You are.” Cooper responded with, “No, really?” and went home to her parents to tell them she thought she was Black, and they said, “No, We’re Jamaican.” In the interview, Cooper noted that coming from a majority Black country like Jamaica, categories like white or Black were never an issue because everyone was very mixed ethnically. When she came to the United States, however, she found that everyone was viewed as white, Black, or something else. She found it very confusing, and in her new book, she humorously delves into this issue.

Inspired by family

Born in Jamaica in 1977, Cooper’s family includes a Chinese-Jamaican grandmother. The family moved to Rockville, Maryland, in 1980, and Cooper was already showing interest in pursuing a career in the performing arts by the time she was a teenager. She followed her parents’ wishes, however, and earned degrees in economics from the University of Maryland and digital design from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Cooper has said that laughter was a “currency” in her home and credits her family for giving her the material and inspiration to pursue comedy.

Rise to fame

Cooper started doing stand-up comedy in Atlanta, Georgia, while working at Yahoo! Then, when she was working at Google, she kept writing and performing her stand-up routines. She honed her skills by analyzing the monologues of Stephen Colbert to find out what made them funny. In 2006, she made three four-minute episodes posted to YouTube called “The Bubble,” and in 2014, wrote a blog post that gained five million views. Later in 2014, she left Google to write and perform full-time. Cooper caught the public’s attention during the COVID-19 lockdown by making satirical lip-syncing videos on TikTok that poked fun at former president Donald Trump’s press conferences. The videos went viral with over 24 million views, and she suddenly was a star. In an interview with Leila Fadel, Cooper said her experience seems “unreal and surreal,” and she felt that she was getting imposter syndrome by writing her memoir, which includes achievements like speaking at the Democratic National Convention and getting a Netflix special. In 2020, she was named Digital Creator of the Year by Adweek and received nominations in the “Creator of the Year” and “Comedy” categories of the 10th annual Streamy Awards. She said she was feeling like she didn’t deserve the success and that it “was so much all at once.”

Photo Sarah Cooper/@spudtrooper