Tyler Fischer is getting a crash course in Big Tech censorship.
Fischer, a classically trained actor turned comedian, is one of the few satirists imitating Dr. Anthony Fauci. Except this isn’t the toothless portrait shown on “Saturday Night Live.”
Fischer’s version mocks the doctor’s pessimism and unnecessary protocols. It’s not crude, but it leaves a satirical mark.
TikTok didn’t find the viral videos funny. The Chinese platform bounced one of Fischer’s Fauci videos for several days before restoring it Thursday after sites like The Federalist drew attention to the matter. The comedian’s impression caught plenty of people’s attention prior to the removal, including syndicated talker Mike Gallagher.
“’SNL’ wasn’t really poking fun [of him] like they could have,” Fischer says. “Mine was suddenly highlighted.”
TikTok previously erased Fischer’s impression of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I appealed it, but they wouldn’t put it back up,” he says of the Cuomo clip, adding the platform dubbed it too sexual for its standards. Fischer poked fun at the governor for explaining his hands-on leadership is a byproduct of his Italian heritage.
A quick perusal of TikTok uncovers a crush of sexual content, all permitted by the platform’s censors. He can’t help but be confused.
“For any reason under the sun they can remove [content],” he says. “It’s not even a discussion of ‘why’ anymore.”
TikTok isn’t the only tech platform to erase his hard work. Instagram removed an entire page dedicated to the Big Apple, he says.
“I was making fun of the annoying parts of New York. It started blowing up, then it was gone,” he says. “I was depressed for months.”
The reasons why are obvious.
“These things have a real impact on comedians,” he says, from limiting brand potential to reducing content that might draw new supporters to supplemental revenue streams, like Patreon. The latter has proved invaluable for Fischer, a method savvy comedians like Tim Dillon have successfully leveraged.
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Fischer isn’t a hate comic. He simply throws sharp comedic elbows as he sees fit. He’s targeted everyone from Dr. Fauci to actor Owen Wilson.
“That’s my approach,” says Fischer, who also has a comedy podcast to share his wit and impressions. “I didn’t do anything different for Fauci.”
That apparently put him in Big Tech’s cross hairs, and he says the implications extend far beyond his career. Fischer’s fellow comedians are starting to second guess what jokes to tell and which ones to post online. It’s not a healthy environment “for any free thinkers,” he says.
Fischer studied acting at the University of Rhode Island and, later, in London. He used that training to segue into comedy, getting hailed by The New York Times as the “Best New Impressionist” and grabbing the attention of bookers from “Last Week Tonight” and “The Late Show.”
He’s diversified his content strategy in recent years, creating a podcast, YouTube channel and Cameo business as part of his solopreneur status. It’s a new normal for modern comedians.
“You’ve gotta have a business sense for this,” he says.
“Even just knowing how to start an ad account on YouTube [matters],” he says, noting he pulled in $700 from one, 40-second Dr. Fauci video.
He wasn’t always a multimedia personality. Current events forced his hand.
“I started a Patreon page out of complete fear and survival mode when the pandemic hit,” says Fischer, who turned his living room into a studio to shoot videos during the lockdowns.
Fischer’s Dr. Fauci impressions are both funny and spot-on, but he has little competition. He thinks our tribal times are partly to blame.
“There could be some fear,” he says. “Oh, my .. they’re on my side, politically, so we can’t make fun of them.”
It’s why he viewed “SNL” hiring comedy legend Jim Carrey to play then-candidate Joe Biden last year so unfavorably. Fischer got inspired to become an impressionist, in part, by watching Dana Carvey’s balanced take on President George H.W. Bush.
Carrey’s Biden, by comparison, pulled its punches due to the actor’s hatred for Biden’s foe, President Donald Trump.
Carvey’s work would have gone viral in his day. Now, It’s Fischer’s Fauci racking up the social media views. Except the comedian fears his work’s reach may be limited by more Big Tech chicanery.
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One of his recent Dr. Fauci YouTube clips amassed 90,000 views, but he suspects that figure could be even higher.
“I’m doing press every day and big radio shows and podcasts,” says Fischer, who wonders if the platform is shadow banning his work.
He’s trying to take the censorship in stride, buoyed by the Patreon page and fan enthusiasm. A comedian who once dreamed of making people laugh on “SNL” isn’t as concerned with mainstream acceptance anymore.
“People really started to reach out and take notice,” he says, including clients hiring him to perform as Dr. Fauci for Cameo appearances.
“The numbers are there, financially,” he says. “People are starved for comedy, nonpartisan comedy.”