Using footage from the 1997 Hollywood film Titanic, the sketch follows the demise of the passenger liner, this time captained by David Cameron with officers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, and an impassive Jeremy Corbyn, who plays the violin as the vessel goes down.
Its creator, Josh Pappenheim, 29, said the inspiration was a gift from Johnson who, when foreign secretary, said: “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a titanic success of it.”
Given the task of creating shorts that could “join bigger conversations”, Pappenheim, a writer and producer who was then working for the UK arm of US TV channel Comedy Central, said: “There was no bigger conversation than Brexit and as soon as Johnson said Titanic, he’d written the joke for us: it’s a perfect metaphor.”
Many agree. More than 3.3 million had already watched it on the Comedy Central UK site and last Wednesday a tweet kickstarted a viral spread that has so far attracted an additional four million views. When views from other platforms are counted, Brexit: A Titanic Disaster has collectively been watched more than 10 million times.
Yet despite its current popularity, the sketch, which took just a few days to put together, was actually launched 16 months ago, and Johnson made the original remark earlier still, in November 2016. “The fact is that it’s still relevant, probably more so now than ever,” said Pappenheim.
He said his favourite character from the short was Johnson, who at one point pretends to be a child so he can grab a place on a lifeboat.
Asked whether it was difficult to depict Corbyn dutifully playing his instrument as the deck disappears beneath the waves, Pappenheim said: “Choosing Corbyn for that role was easy.”