Cambridge resident makes waves with viral TikTok COVID-19 pandemic comedy sketches

·3 min read

After nearly a year in, it seems at this point the pandemic may have gotten to a lot of us.

In a series of videos that have struck a chord with the internet, social media marketer and Cambridge local Mikael Melo certainly found some agreement when it comes to the lack of clarity around lockdown and state of emergency messaging in Ontario.

One of Melo’s TikTok videos poking fun at the government’s state of emergency order has been watched more than one million times and has 37,000 shares as of Jan. 20.

“The response to it has been wonderful,” he said. “I've just had so many people message me saying, ‘I really needed this laugh today,’ or ‘Thank you so much,’ or like, ‘It's really just lifted my spirits during these tough times.’”

The sketch in question has him playing a fictional government spokesperson who still has to go to work, despite the government mandate.

“We just felt ‘lockdown’ wasn’t really hitting our target audience, so ‘state of emergency’ is just our makeover,” he explains to a bewildered caller.

“We’re essentially the exact same experience though,” he explains.

If the official message seems a little vague, it’s “because we want customers to choose their own pandemic experience,” the operator adds.

When creating the video, Melo thought a few friends would see it and “didn’t think much of it.” But the response hit home (literally) when a few friends turned into a million views in the matter of a few days.

Melo “really realized” the video had gone viral when friends reached out to him about the video organically.

“They would say, ‘Hey, man, like my mom's friend posted this on her Facebook’ or ‘Hey, dude, like, I'm in North Bay right now, and the local flower shop just posted your video on their Instagram.’ It was like, wow, like this is really making it throughout Ontario.”

Melo thinks the reason for the video’s popularity is that the rules of the stay-at-home order still feel “loose” to a lot of people. As someone with marketing experience, the change from lockdown in March to state of emergency today “just feels like a rebrand,” he noted.

Melo added that he has more videos that he’d like to keep posting, once TikTok removes his temporary ban.

“They thought I was spamming, but I was just trying to respond to everyone's comments and like, thanking them for supporting the video.”

Melo, who has been making short TikTok videos since March, said he’s always been someone to “crack a joke or two during tough times.”

“I really enjoy making people smile,” he added.

Viewers have taken delight to his followup video as the ‘operator,’ which has racked up tens of thousands of views.

“In dark times, we just need to find lightness and humour,” Melo said. “And so that's kind of why I started doing those videos.”

Swikar Oli, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times