When Scott Morrison chastised ABC journalist Andrew Probyn during a televised press conference, TikTok turned it into a meme overnight. It was only a matter of days before a dance remix dropped, and now Melbourne art director Jeff van de Zandt has found himself as the unintended face of it.
Van de Zandt had been lip-syncing online for years, back since the days of Dubsmash. Currently on self-isolation at home, the 30-year-old was perfectly poised to become the face of the meme.
“Work completely dried up and I was like, I have nothing to do and I’m stuck at home. So I just decided to start doing one TikTok a day and then people started sharing that particular dance and now it’s gone mental,” he told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“I feel like such a fraud because all I’m doing is lip-syncing to the track; I’m actually doing nothing but dancing to it,” he said.
The original remix of Scott Morrison’s lecture over the beats of Duke Dumont’s Red Light Green Light was uploaded to TikTok by Triple J a day earlier. It’s been liked over 44,000 times. Van de Zandt’s TikTok, by comparison, has around three thousand likes, making it the sound’s third-most-popular upload.
@jzandtSaturday night bop. ##fyp ##foryou ##australiangovernment♬ original sound – triplejradio
But off TikTok, Van de Zandt has become the face of the tune. Within just two days it had gone viral on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. While his video did not take over TikTok, it did spread all over the rest of the internet.
“The message that I get the most is that it’s […] a moment to laugh about something rather than their feed that’s constantly full of drama all the crap in the media,” he said. Sometimes watching a cute boy bop with a fan – even if the tune is the Prime Minister berating a journo at a coronavirus press conference – is enough to take your mind off the pandemic for just a moment.
Van de Zandt has been watching some of the PM’s press conferences while cooped up at home, but even he admits it all gets a bit too much sometimes. He’s been off work in self-isolation for two weeks and said he’s “not into the politics but literally just doing it for the fun.”
@jzandtThe latest government advice. ##fyp ##foryou ##coronavirus♬ Latest Aus Gov Advice via Kate McLennan. – jzandt
Since the video went viral, Van de Zandt’s mates have been pinging him every time someone famous shares it on social media. He lists Zoë Foster Blake, Matty J and the ABC’s own Leigh Sales as some of his favourites. “It’s mental… I’m getting sent the Leigh Sales one the most, because she’s such a legit, hardcore journalist on the ABC, I was like ‘wow that’s that’s a big deal for someone to be sharing something as silly as this’,” he said.
Old friends and even acquaintances have also been coming out from the woodwork, now that his face is all over social media. “People who’ve had anything to do with me are all-of-a-sudden like ‘OMG we had so much to do with each other… that one time’,” he added.
It’s not the first time Van de Zandt has poked fun at Scott Morrison’s prolific coronavirus press conferences. When Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney from Get Krack!n parodied the PM’s vague lockdown rules on Twitter, he uploaded the audio to TikTok. It’s now been lip-synced by countless other Aussies on the app. He’s also the first person to lip-sync Sammy J‘s take on the press conferences.
@jzandtFurther advice from the Australian Government, care of Sammy J. ##fyp ##foryou ##AustralianGovernment ##coronavirus♬ original sound – jzandt
Van de Zandt’s theory as to why this particular TikTok of him dancing has blown up is simple: “It’s so out of character for a prime minister to have a go to someone like that publicly. It’s like he’s a teacher in a classroom of children.”
As for whether he’s Team Andrew or Team Katherine, Van de Zandt has cast his lot with Guardian Australia’s Katherine Murphy, even whipping out a fan when the PM mentions her name. “It gives her even more power!”