Welcome to the world of the infamous Ali G, whose flawless impersonations and genuine characters have taken HBO’s comedy segment by storm. This phony British gangster-rapper drastically increased the network’s ratings, but who really is Ali G?
Straight out of Staines in the United Kingdom, Ali G’s thug life began by rapping and interviewing many highly respected people. His vibrant tracksuit nearly compliments the massive amount of gold jewelry adorning his entire body. Moreover, his baggy clothing and Tommy Hillfiger skullcap reinforces the stereotypical image of a ghetto rapper. His jokes, at times are also as stupid as his clothing.
But Ali G’s character is not the only thing that has contributed to his so-called ‘success.’ Many people have fallen in love with his alter ego, the sincere yet sluggish Borat Sagdiyev. Initially from Kazakhstan, this eager-to-explore-the-world reporter travels the United States to describe all aspects of American life and how it differs from his own country. His puppy-dog face and innocent gestures are what truly makes the show worthwhile.
Camp Bruno, the third member of the crew, is the arrogant, flamboyant, yet stylish reporter of Austrian television who patrols the catwalks of New York and other cities to interview irreverent, fashion-driven people. His outlandish facade topped with his repulsively colorful mohawk makes you glad that you don’t look like that.
Although many people know the characters, most fail to take the time to understand who the man behind the mask is.
Sacha Baron Cohen is the mastermind behind Ali G’s charismatic characters. Of Israeli/English background and a Wales upbringing, Cohen possesses a sarcastic sense of humor and a love for the art of impersonation. His bizarre habits and unforgettable idiosyncrasies made quite an impression on his acquaintances. While initially intending to study history, ‘G’ quickly changed course onto the path that would eventually lead him to stardom. His first role in 1991 was as Doolittle the Dustman in the Cambridge Footlights production of ‘My Little Fairy.’ However, it wasn’t until landing a spot on the British network’s ‘The 11 O’Clock Show’ that the Ali G phenomenon began.
Cohen’s increasing popularity in Britain made him a little too well known to land interviews with prominent figures, so he was eventually forced to bring his act to the United States, where HBO executives luckily wasted no time giving the comedian a chance. Months later, ‘Da Ali G Show’ climbed its way to the top of the popularity charts. Now, after a year, the show has nearly reached its peak, yet people still don’t understand how a thug like him gets interviews with some of today’s most respected people.
Although the answer is still unclear, viewers can get a gist of how the producers of the show actually go about it. In order for Ali G to get an interview with ’60 Minutes’ legend Andy Rooney, producers invaded the CBS press department and spoke to Rooney’s assistant directly. Rooney received a fictitious official letter asking him to participate in an interview about pop culture for an educational British show. Before he knew it, the interview began, and the cameras began to roll.
But it is by asking the interviewee or their affiliates directly that Cohen is able to land big interviews with people such as conservative icon Pat Buchanan, head of ABC News Sam Donaldson and billionaire mogul Donald Trump.
Not only has his show become a major hit on HBO, but Ali G has also been featured in many multimedia hits such as the DVD release of his films, ‘Bling Bling’ and ‘Ali G In Da House.’ Ali G has also become so desirable that Madonna used him in her music video for ‘Music.’ But what is so appealing about Ali G or his other sidekick characters?
Jacqueline Dull, a first-year economics major, admits that after seeing one episode of Ali G, she immediately became attracted to his sense of humor.
‘I love the way he dresses and talks,’ Dull said. ‘His random comments and gangster image make him so funny and hot.’
Sunil Patel, also a first-year economics major, thinks differently, and describes Ali G’s type of comedy ‘dull and distasteful.’
Already wrapping up his second season, Cohen is working on developing a third. Some critics believe that since ‘Da Ali G Show’ relies on attracting an audience that has never heard of Ali G, it may not last very long. Some think otherwise, claiming that there are more than enough celebrities and regular people to dupe for American television. Whatever the case may be, ‘Da Ali G Show’ continues to play on HBO Comedy every night at 10:30 p.m. So, if you’re up late one night and have nothing else better to do, check it out and decide for yourself if this con man is truly outrageously funny or miserably inane.