Musings on the Coronavirus, Part VI

Chronicling the End of the Empire

Rajiv Satyal
6 min readMay 7, 2020


Happy Blursday!


To help with social distancing, the liquor store in our neighborhood has placed Xs for us to stand. It’s a great idea, but this is LA, and now I just feel like I’m auditioning to buy that bottle of vodka. At least when I slate, I don’t even need to tell them how tall I am. They can see it on the height strips as I run out the door. And I’m glad that when I got home, the bottle wasn’t a prop — it contained real vodka.

Hit your mark and say your lines.


While we’re on the topic, for all of my out-of-work actors, why don’t you try the Trump cabinet? Tons of acting positions…


Most of us are still staying home. Snickers should bring back its “Not Going Anywhere for a While?” campaign.


In one day, I had Donald Trump, Joe Exotic, and Michael Jordan on my TV.

Liars and Tigers and Bulls — oh, my!


It’s “cooped up.”

I saw somebody write, “couped up.”

You can’t be couped up unless you’re in a two-door car.

And you really should be at home.


I was recently on a family Zoom call for a birthday. My wife and I were late to sign in. I think we can finally admit to ourselves that traffic was never our problem. Yeah, you know, all that traffic getting to the computer in our bedroom…

At the end of the call, we said goodbye five times before anyone signed off. I used to have a theory: the reason Indians take so long to leave is we’re so late to arrive; we have to make up for it on the backend. Or maybe it was as simple as our shoes. Say goodbye and then look for your shoes. Find your shoes and say goodbye again. Help your kids put on their shoes and say goodbye. And then stand around for another five minutes and talk in your shoes since you feel like a different person. More catching up to do at this height. And then leave.

But nope. We just can’t leave anything, even when the program is called ZOOM. Like, ZOOM. Get outta here. Still can’t do it.

And if you want a tip for how not to talk over each other, take a page out of the politician’s handbook: “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”

I realized what a narcissist I am because on all of these Zoom calls — no matter how good-looking the other people are — I pretty much stare at the window containing myself.

Soon, I’m gonna upload a screenshot of myself as my Zoom Virtual Background so I can go nap. Or go hire a doppelgänger.

This makes me wonder… Is Neel Kashkari available on TaskRabbit for me to hire him to sit in for me?

After all, I’m playing Gandhi on Cameo and you can hire me to send messages to people in your life.


Maybe it’s because I grew up in the ’90s, but every time NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says “ventilators,” I hear, “Ventilators! MOUNT UP.”


In 1998, Russian political scientist Igor Panarin predicted the USA would break into four disparate nations. I could write “separate,” but “disparate” sounds smarter.

I don’t know that I necessarily agree with how that would all go down, but about five years ago, I predicted that, within 10 years, the USA as we know it would cease to exist. Yes, before Trump became President. That gives us about five years left on the lease.

How do I feel about how my prediction is tracking? Pretty darned good. (I also said in high school that the world would end before 2050. Apparently, that’s now en vogue, but I think that prognosis derived largely from the human condition of believing the end times would occur during one’s lifetime. I’ve matured.)

Returning our focus to our own country, how would it go down? Well, Trump said about the federal government: “We’re not a shipping clerk.” As a comedian, I can tell you that’s a funny statement. As a citizen, I can also tell you it’s a dangerous statement. That is precisely why the federal government exists: to provide for the states equally. Now, states are competing with each other for life-saving equipment. It cuts against the whole idea of the United States of America. We are all Americans before we are Californians and Ohioans and Texans. (Well, maybe not Texans.) But if we are pitted against each other, this spells trouble immediately and down the road.

Somebody recently tweeted to the effect of, “It’d be great if there were some kind of position like National Governor or something.” Exactly. If belonging to the USA provides more problems than solutions, then why shouldn’t California consider pairing up with Japan? I’d be in just for the sushi.

In all seriousness, I think the breakup scenario is more likely than people think. And it bothers me to no end that I get no credit for saying since Trump won that things would get really, really bad. Because I didn’t specifically call out “coronavirus,” I ain’t gettin’ my due. But this is what I sent out the day after the 2016 election.

I am not rooting for Trump to succeed or fail. Because it doesn’t matter. He will fail and I am going to laugh my dick off as he does. The economy is going to go in the toilet, Russia and China will defeat us, and all these grand plans Trump has will bankrupt the nation as he has bankrupted himself multiple times.


Trump recommended we ingest disinfectants to fight corona. In Trump’s defense, the Dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding used Windex as his cure-all.

The best part of my post? Windex actually replied

Who knows if Windex is helpful or harmful for you? I’ve been drinking vodka-tonics for years and still don’t know if quinine is dangerous or beneficial. I mean, it’s clearly important enough to include in large font on the packaging.

Contains Quinine. Just like how my vodka bottle contains vodka.

Rajiv Satyal is a standup comic. He resides in Los Angeles.