Ali G is dead! The always amazingly entertaining, over-the-top junglist comic character and star of HBO's Da Ali G Show has been killed off by its creator, British comic genius Sacha Baron Cohen, who simultaneously killed off his even better known character/alter-ego Borat Sagdiyev.
The passing, or rather retiring, of both Ali G and Borat was announced in a British newspaper interview with Baron Cohen a couple of days ago. "When I was being Ali G and Borat I was in character sometimes 14 hours a day and I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing," the 36-year-old actor-comedian said in Friday's Daily Telegraph.
The good news is that Ali G and Borat are survived by Bruno, Baron Cohen's slightly lesser known but no less over-the-top creation -- the flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter character (with a knack for making people contradict themselves and look foolish), who is reported to be the star of Baron Cohen's in-the-works, next movie, the sequel to his 2006 surprise hit Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
In the meantime Baron Cohen has been spending more and more of his time on his acting career. He plays the singing barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli in Tim Burton's just opened Sweeny Todd (starring Johnny Depp) and in last year's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby he played Will Ferrell's arch rival, the French Formula 1 speed demon Jean Girard. Additionally, he guest-starred in the finale of the fifth season Curb Your Enthusiasm. And more importantly, in perhaps the most challenging part as an actor, he plays the role of Abbie Hoffman in the upcoming biopic on the sixties satirist being directed by Steven Spielberg.
While many, including myself, will sadly miss both Ali G and Borat, it is probably best that the comedian retire them now while the joke is still fresh. Besides, there are still so many video-taped interviews and interactions with unsuspecting subjects to go back and rewatch -- especially by Ali G.
On Da Ali G Show, which premiered in the UK and then got picked up to be produced in the US by HBO, the clownish Ali G character interviewed such serious subjects as Gore Vidal, Donald Trump, US Surgeon General Everett Koop, Pat Buchanan (see below), and Andy Rooney (who was far from amused by his interviewer). In an interview with David Letterman (one of his few not in alter ego character), Sacha Baron Cohen described Ali G as, "a wanna be hip-hop gangsta who in fact lives in a suburban (Staines) part of England...who interviews probably the cleverest people in the world and asks the most stupid questions."
And therein lies the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen: the ability to stay in dumbed-down character opposite sharp intellects, while cleverly manipulating and controlling the conversation into revealing results. And this he does with such masterful finesse that only he and we (the privileged viewers in on the ruse) can fully appreciate. Furthermore, he does it effortlessly no matter which character he is channeling. So really there is no need to mourn the passing of Borat and Ali G since, no doubt, Baron Cohen has a number of other fresh new characters ready to unleash on an unsuspecting world.
Meantime, I recommend you go buy some Ali G or Borat DVDs for either yourself or others as great Christmas gifts. In addition to the movie Borat (lots of fun outtakes and extras on the DVD version), there is the Da Ali G Show plus the totally slept on but hilarious 2002 release Ali G Indahouse: The Movie And naturally, all of these DVDs are available at the three Amoeba Music stores.