It all started because she was bored.
Annie Agar, a freelance television sports reporter in Rockford, Michigan, was out of work as no sports were being played in the early months of the pandemic. She had given up her apartment and moved back in with her parents. Here it was mid-May and she spent her days watching Netflix, playing board games and missing sports, work and the life she used to have.
"I was on a Zoom call for a birthday party, and something just clicked," Agar, 24, said in a phone interview this week. "The Big Ten is my base here, and I started thinking how funny it would be if they had a Zoom call because they all kind of hate each other."
Agar set her phone up in the corner of her bedroom. Forty-five minutes later, she had produced a hilarious parody that drew 750,000 views across TikTok and Twitter in its first 24 hours and poured jet fuel on her COVID-stalled career.
That video has more than 2.3 million page views since mid-May, and Agar has produced dozens of Zoom parodies, lampooning teams and athletes from the NFL, college football and the Masters. She also has a devoted social media fan base — one that includes NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit — and a power agent who is currently negotiating her next career move with several national media companies.
"This whole thing has been incredible," she said. "I had no idea it was going to take off like this. I’m just trying to connect with people and make them laugh."
Part of what is so funny about Agar’s Zoom spoofs is the way she is able to capture the all-too-familiar rhythm of Zoom meetings — how quickly they can veer off topic as people chime in — and then feature the different personalities of different teams. Agar, by changing T-shirts, plays every character in the meetings, which almost always feature arguments, interruptions and stereotypes.
One of her more popular NFL videos features NFC East teams holding a workshop about how to get better. The Giants are apologetic, the Cowboys are living in their glory days and Washington is so out of touch with the times that it has problems with the mute button.
In her NFL week-in-review videos, the Jets understandably have had a big role. When we spoke earlier this week, she wasn’t tipping her hand on how she planned to handle last Sunday’s last-second loss to the Raiders. She guaranteed, however, they would have a featured role.
"That game was the absolute definition of the Jets, so I would be remiss if I didn’t include them in the video," she laughed.
Agar grew up in a sports-crazy family. Her father, Jeff, was a minor-league pitcher in the Detroit Tigers farm system. Her brother, John, who was born with cerebral palsy, has competed with his father in triathlons around the world and the two have been featured on ESPN’s E:60.
Agar, who graduated from Grand Valley State, said her goal since she was 10 was to work for ESPN. She figured she would have to work her way up through local stations and at this point she is still freelancing for the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids.
That is likely to change soon.
Agar recently signed on with Wasserman, a California-based sports marketing and talent management company, a pretty heady move for a recent college graduate who has never had a full-time media job.
"Most of my clients are older and established, but we took a chance because she’s smart and talented and funny," said Debbie Spander, a senior vice-president of coaching and broadcasting at Wasserman. "I loved her videos and we did a Zoom call. And she’s so young, I also did a Zoom call with her parents."
Spander sees Agar as a "more modern version of Katie Nolan," the ESPN talent who started her career while writing a sports blog from a Boston tavern where she was working. Agar has plans to expand her Zoom parodies to other sports, but said she remains interested in sports broadcasting and other ways to take her career.
"I think comedy is a great way to bring people into sports who don’t know about sports," Agar said. "I’ve really enjoyed connecting with fans. I’ve really had a fun time doing it."