love in the time of corona

A Coronavirus Diagnosis Won’t Stop Chloe Fineman’s Instagram

The bride wore toilet paper. Photo: Courtesy of Chloe Fineman

Here’s a sentence that has probably never been written before and, if it had, would not have made any sense out of the context of the past three weeks: Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman didn’t know she had coronavirus when she set out to fake-marry her best friend, actor Casey Thomas Brown, over Instagram Live late last week. Fineman “felt really tired” in the days leading up to the elaborate nuptials, but went forward with the occasion as planned, telling her more than 170,000 followers, “Tomorrow I gonna marry my best friend and the love of my life @shartyparty69 on Instagram live ❤️. Had to cancel wedding IRL cuz everyone refused to come. OUR LOVE CAN’T WAIT.” The morning after, instead of waking up next to her beloved, she awoke to a lightly symptomatic case of COVID-19.

Fineman also did not know that “Page Six,” E! Online, and the Daily Mail, among other outlets, would do straight-faced reporting on the occasion — which involved toilet-paper veils, a Cracker Barrel registry, a leopard-print blazer, and several wigs — as an actual wedding. “Saturday Night Live star Chloe Fineman says she isn’t letting the coronavirus lockdown ruin her wedding plans,” wrote “Page Six,” while E! placed Fineman’s nuptials in the larger context of dashed wedding plans: “With coronavirus sweeping the world and keeping loved ones away from each other, couples have been postponing or downright canceling their upcoming nuptials … One thing is clear — in these hard times, there’s no shortage of love. Congratulations to the newlyweds!”

A week after Fineman’s exquisite hoax — and, thankfully, recovery from the coronavirus — we called her up to get the details on planning a fake Instagram wedding during a global pandemic while also being part of the pandemic.

How are you feeling?
I’m good. I tested positive. But it’s so mild.

Oh no!
I know. I think it was all so mild and I just got neurotic and I was like, “I’ll do the horrible test.” But I’m pretty much recovered.

What were your symptoms?
I couldn’t taste food, which was really weird, and you’d think would be great for weight loss, but I just end up eating more because I’m like, “How can I not taste this?!” And just a fever for a few days.

Okay, I’m glad you’re feeling better.
Just mildly congested. Thank you.

Were you sick during the wedding?
Yeah, I think I clearly had coronavirus. [Laughs.]

Did you know yet?
I was just like, “Man, I feel really tired.” And then that night I got my fever. But I was like, “No, it’s just in my head. Because I’m stuck inside.” But I definitely was like, “Whoa, I feel really weak.”

You really got fake-married with coronavirus on Instagram.
I did. I did.

Photo: Courtesy of Chloe Fineman

Are you quarantining with your “fiancé”?
[Laughs.] My “fiancé” is my gay best friend Casey in Montana, but I am with my boyfriend.

Knowing your work, it felt obvious that the wedding was a joke, but there was a lot of serious reporting on it from Daily Mail, “Page Six” —
And People! It blew my mind. And we were in mullet wigs! He intentionally made the flyer look terrible. And they were like, “SNL’s Chloe Fineman Is Getting Married!”

Do you really think they thought it was real, or were they playing along? Did they reach out to you for comment?
One hundred percent. People magazine, Glamour, and E! reached out to the publicists at SNL and my manager for comment. And they were like, “Uh, it’s not real.” And they were like, “We’re proceeding with the article.” I think eventually, after it happened, the Daily Mail wrote another article, which is my favorite thing. They’re like, “Chloe wed Sharty. They are registered at the Cracker Barrel.” It’s so insane that some poor person had to sit down and type that up.

Do you think any part of it was done with a wink?
They were like, “It’s still unclear if she’s actually married or not.” I think they thought I wanted a funny wedding, and when I do get married, I will want that. But they just think so lowly of me. [Laughs.] That’s how I would want to do it. But Casey is a great actor and he was crying during it, so I think that helped sell it.

Photo: Courtesy of Chloe Fineman

What inspired you to do this in the first place?
So, this girl I follow on Instagram actually got married on Instagram Live last week. Nobody wanted to go to her wedding, everybody canceled, so she was streaming it, which was such an “influencer” thing to do. I was like, “This is insane.” I watched it, there were four people there, and she was telling the Alexa to call her dad. The whole thing was so funny to me. So I was like, “We should do that.” So we got together with Drew Droege, who’s one of my favorite people — he does Chloë Sevigny in drag — and Casey and my best friend Hannah Pilkes and Sarah Baker were like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” We did a trial run — I signed into my dad’s Instagram to see if I could practice the Live. The problem with Instagram Live is you can only do two people at a time, so I thought it’d work if we filmed our Zoom conversation, which made the whole thing look even worse. It looked terrible.

At what point did you realize it was being taken seriously?
When the Daily Mail article came out I was like, “Oh no.” And then a lot of people were like, “I knew you guys were together! Congrats!” [Laughs.] Because we make videos together.

After realizing that, was any part of you like, “Okay, I’m going to run with this and make it seem real.”
No. It was purely, “How can we get through the boredom of quarantine?” We were putting our costumes together, and Casey looked great and I looked like a clown. The only level of seriousness was wearing a leather leopard jacket instead of an American flag sweatshirt.

What other kind of planning went into the occasion?
We Zoomed a few times to practice the order, practice our speeches. But we basically planned it in a day.

Talk to me about the hair and makeup situation.
Fortunately in L.A. I have a lot of wigs from rejected comedy performances. But I didn’t have my mullet I wanted; I somehow took that to New York. So I teased my Marianne Williamson wig. I have no makeup here except for electric blue eye shadow and red lipstick.

What was your actual boyfriend’s reaction?
He rolled his eyes. He was happy I finally had something to do.

Do you guys plan on actually getting married?
I can’t say that in an article, he’ll dump me.

If you did, would it be on Instagram?
Absolutely not. But I would give birth and I would go on a honeymoon. Definitely a honeymoon on Instagram Live would be the next move.

What was the most difficult part of pulling off a fake Instagram wedding?
I think just how many people texted me and were like, “Oh my God, congratulations!” Including the Real Housewife Teddi Mellencamp.

Yes. She texted me, “Congrats!”

Are you friends?
I’ve done her fitness program, so she has my number. She was like, “I always knew you were together!” And I have to be like, “He doesn’t like women. We tend to have crushes on the same men.” And friends of my boyfriend were like, “Man, are you okay?”

What are you up to with SNL on hiatus?
Going through my wigs, finally. Dropping into some Groundlings classes. And if I’m being completely honest, I financed a Peloton. $350 down and $50 a month. I secretly plan to return it in 50 days. That’s how much I’ve lost my mind. I do plan to return it.

What’s that been like, being off?
Really hard. Super surreal. I think some of us are trying to make stuff for their Instagram, which is really fun, but not the same. It makes you realize how much you appreciate that job. And the people.

Is there a group chat?
There is a group chat. It’s very funny. Initially it was, “Who’s placing bets on when we’re coming back?”

Have you come up with any new impressions while quarantining?
Carole Baskin. Luckily that character got rejected in Groundlings and I happen to have a Carole wig. And hopefully some Timothée Chalamet will come out. I have the wig, so.

A Coronavirus Diagnosis Won’t Stop Chloe Fineman’s Instagram