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Sabrina Brier Is TikTok’s Latest Character

Last month, it was a dark Saturday night on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Saturday nights can get very dark, but Sabrina Brier, in a rhinestone necklace and strapless plaid pantsuit, was beaming and warming up on stage at a basement comedy club called Caveat Crowd.

“You’re the butter, I’m the microwave,” she announced.

That particular joke wore off quickly, but the metaphor hung in the air. After sweating on the back burner for a few years in show business, Ms Brier, 28, has found instant success on the social media platform of the moment, TikTok. She has over 400,000 followers and many more fans who watch, “like” and share her videos, which largely parody life as a young woman with some privilege and an unpredictable sense of self, vacillating between the excitement of the city and the reassuring comfort of the suburbs. (“See that corner? Perfect for a pumpkin,” she explained in one about reclaiming fall, the supposed favorite season of “simple” white women. “Don’t blame me Meblame the architect!”

Ms. Brier specializes in point-of-view or POV videos that explore relatable, often hateful characters, with a subtle sneer, a happily rubbery body, and a peppy rendition of cross-generational catchphrases like “slay, queen” and ” I got you”, which are often repeated for effect. She recently spoofed the Get Ready With Me (GR.WM) genre, which sees women across America smear makeup on their faces, pocket beauty products, and share too much.

POV of this GR.WM: “The girl who bullied you in high school is trying to be an influencer.”

In a five-part series about the “Extremely Passive Aggressive Roommate,” Ms. Brier pretends she doesn’t bother taking out the trash when it’s not her day; enforces a rule of not having people on weekdays; complains that her roommate comes home at 3:27; persuades this roommate to extend their lease, then welcomes a guest to the “common room.” (The first three videos each received millions of views.) Ms. Brier’s real-life roommate, Alice Duchen, an intensive care unit nurse, often stands expressionless behind the camera.

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The two women live in Greenwich Village in a small two-bedroom walk-in apartment near a stand of CitiBikes (Ms. Brier also sent up the CitiBike poser, who demonstratively bleated “To your left!”). She is on a lower floor than the character she plays in one of her most popular videos, who breathlessly urges a visitor to climb six floors in a building she tries to argue as a luxury: “It’s going to be so worth it!” light up!”

Eleven days before the Caveat comedy show, Ms Brier sat in the dining area of ​​her apartment in front of a plate of untouched biscuits under a collection of her paternal grandmother’s paintings and shared her creation story.

Her mother, Susan Cinoman, is a playwright and is currently working on a feminist retelling of the legend of King Arthur, who divorced Ms Brier’s father, a cardiologist, when he was 5 years old. “Very cordially,” said Mrs. Brier. “No big drama.”

She has an older sister, Gabrielle, who is now a producer, and they were obsessed with Disney Channel when they were little, directing a modern-day Cinderella — “but instead of the ball, it’s like a Britney Spears concert” — and later “rom-com girlie movies” like “Clueless” and “Mean Girls”.

Ms. Brier was in the sixth grade when she was first given a phone, the Verizon Chocolate. “We were the AIM generation,” she said, never dreaming that one day a phone could be a portal to everything. She attended Amity High School where she won first place in a Shakespearean competition with a monologue from The Taming of the Shrew, not sure if comedy was her winning strategy. “It was kind of a thing where the guys were the ones who had to have the personality, right? The boys were the class clowns.” She relaxed at Smith College, an all-female liberal arts college, where she studied drama and took improv classes.

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“It was always easy to identify her as a performative person,” Ms. Cinoman said over the phone. “She wasn’t an extrovert per se, but half of Sabrina was looking out the window the whole time. Some other realities impacted the one we were all in with her.”

After graduating, Ms. Brier worked in talent management for two years and then got an assistant job in the writers’ room on “For Life,” an ABC drama about a wrongly convicted man who becomes a prison attorney to exonerate himself. “I’m a devil for anything that makes me cry,” Ms Brier said. “There’s a sad girl in every comedian, and that’s definitely me.”

After a season, Covid came. Uneasy in quarantine, she began posting videos to Instagram, one of which was picked up by Barstool, the popular sports blog. But that was before Reels. “It was kind of fuzzy, and it didn’t translate, and I didn’t understand it and I didn’t feel it old,” she said. Then she threw up a few on TikTok, notably one in which she called Houston Street in New York, which is pronounced How-ston, faux-naive Hew-ston. Boom.

As Ms. Brier expanded her oeuvre from the single note of a Connecticut transplant in New York to the intricate jazz of friendship, particularly female friendship, she began to gain recognition in restaurants and on the sidewalk. Dixie D’Amelio, a princess of the platform, named her account a favorite to follow. Model Emily Ratajkowski used Ms. Brier’s voiceover for a video about being noticed. Playwright Jeremy O. Harris included them in his “Coronavirus Mixtape” posts, Carousels of Videos and memes Mr Harris posted during lockdown.

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Ms. Brier’s viral fame has caught the attention of brands who pay her to write comics about their products as she now makes a living. The girl who once made a video about being “the ULTIMATE subway girl” who couldn’t swipe her MetroCard is now hired to sell Subway sandwiches. (Other sponsorships include Bumble, the board game Uno, and mirrored phone cases.)

But she dreams of having and directing her own TV show. In May, she will perform two nights as her character at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn — a neighborhood that would likely be hard to find this character. Ms. Brier, now represented by the Creative Arts Agency, is also applying for other roles.

After all, in this city you need ambition and an algorithm.

“People are like, ‘Wow, this is all happening,'” Ms. Brier said. “And I’m like, ‘These are just things that work the way I’ve tried to make them work. It’s not a coincidence.’”

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