Everything is subjective, although as a film and television connoisseur, comedy is usually the most scrutinised (and the genre I feel least satisfied by). There are many more ordinary or failed comedies than above average, or at least successful, humourous projects.
Then there are the creative artists that rise above the crop either by actually hitting the funny bone of the masses or often by notoriety such as London born comic chameleon, Sacha Baron Cohen. Married to flame-haired beauty and comic maestro in her own way, Australian Isla Fisher, his career of film also equates to topsy turvy.
Early career regular appearances on British television took a major acceleration with Da Ali G Show (2000). Here he played the fictional rapper with his own talk show interviewing guests on serious subjects, a format in turn similar to his latest impactful series, Who Is America.
Now streaming on Stan Australia (Sundays), the opening episode unfortunately shows high ranking individuals in society and politics being duped by the host and uncontrollably endorsing incredibly touchy subject matter. Without spoiling too much of the deliberate controversial circumstances that eventuate during various conversations with unsuspecting individuals, gun laws are openly exploited from a should know better politician, while an art gallery consultant allows personal grooming creativity.
Cohen is a master of disguise obviously – although as a viewer we know it is him under the latex mask, wigs, body weight gainers or false teeth – the guests do not. Under lock and key, details of each episode have been kept in utter secrecy, rare in the age of instant information.
Not for everyone, there is no denying the abstract Cohen is quick to react while holding onto questions striking when the time is right, not overplaying his hand. If it’s scripted or a set up, I cannot say but from the tone, it is out to shock while clearly exploiting American suffrage.
Sarah Palin stated in advance of the show’s premiere that she was one of the many taken for a ride. Time will tell over upcoming episodes and moving forward if more high scale identities are ridiculed or spotlighted for all the wrong reasons.
WHO IS AMERICA – Now on STAN.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s film career at a glance…
ALI G INDAHOUSE: THE MOVIE – 2002
Big screen extension of cult television series broadens cast and antics into a plot involving the British Prime Minister. My view: Sporadically funny deviency.
TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY – 2006
Madness on the Nascar track playing a French driving rival with unusual overtones opposite Will Ferrell in equal pratfall mode. My view: Amusingly outlandish sports satire.
BORAT – 2006
Mass hysteria surrounded this as his fake character Borat duped real innocent bystanders and individuals highlighting cultural shenanigans. My view: Huge hype lowered my expectations at the time, then I saw it. Embarrassingly hilarious, a lot like Who Is America.
SWEENEY TODD: DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET – 2007
All singing big screen version of popular stage play, small effective role. My view: Proves he can sing too. Perfect casting, good film.
BRUNO – 2009
Master of disguise strikes again in the fashion world – an area that takes itself way too seriously that he successfully exploits. Caused a stir. My view: Must have taken elaborate planning in certain live situations.
HUGO – 2011
Great side role as station master hand picked by auteur Martin Scorsese. My view: Most convincing in a cinematic ‘acting’ role.
THE DICTATOR – 2012
Playing a foreign dictator with questionable values discovering himself. Megan Fox has incredible comic timing shining through above all else. My view: Deplorable to watch, more often than not.
LES MISERABLES – 2012
Again proving versatility as a singing performer and unlikely casting choice works to the hilt opposite old mate Helena Bonham Carter. My view: Loved this film version, apologies to my theatre friends.
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES – 2013
Ensemble appearance as a BBC newsman in a significant moment is brief fun. My view: Perfect cameo in enjoyable mish-mash sequel.
GRIMSBY – 2016
Polarising unfunny excuse to be disgusting with as intended zero decorum. Has few but some admirers. My view: Zero out of ten.
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – 2016
Reuniting with Sweeney Todd director Tim Burton, he successfully goes down the rabbit hole appearing as Time in the Disney blockbuster. My view: Evolving although lesser sequel, dark fun.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.