Sacha Baron Cohen Breaks Character, Not Wind

Sacha Baron Cohen

Last Friday, Sacha Baron Cohen gave his first interview as himself since the birth of Admiral General Aladeen, the lead role in the newly released The Dictator. Speaking with the BBC, Baron Cohen took the chance to debut another character: the Jewish comedian who talks about Jews in comedy.

“Jews have a tendency to become comedians,” he kvetched. “There’s ways of coping with persecution and one of them is, you know, humor.”

He also theorized about deeper roots:

“The first joke ever documented, I think, is in the Bible, where Isaac’s real name [in Hebrew] means ‘he laughed.’ So he laughed at the concept that his wife was going to become pregnant. So maybe that’s the origin.”

Baron Cohen also discussed the genesis of the character we now know as Borat Sagdiyev. Originally, this mustachioed pervert went by the name Alexei Krikler, and hailed from Moldova. But apparently something more extreme was needed, which is a fortunate event for the world of comedy, because while Borat Sagdiyev sounds like a guy who might offer you cash to sleep with your sister, Alexei Krikler from Moldova sounds like the whiz kid with a heavy accent competing for the Golden Pencil Award at the National High School Math Championship.

The actor also talked about his new film, The Dictator, which was conceived before the Arab Spring, though the timing was admittedly fortuitous. But truly, is there ever a bad time to make fun of “Leader of the Revolution,” “King of Kings,” “Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council,” sensitive short story writer, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi?

“I had always found Colonel Gaddafi hilarious and I wanted to do a character that was inspired by him… Gaddafi had these thirty virgin guards, you know, he dressed unintentionally like a sixty year old woman, and would often break wind when being interviewed for the BBC.”

Dictators, from Kim Jong Il to Gaddafi to Turkmenbashi, are rich material:

“I think the word is ludicrous. They’re vicious and yet ludicrous. Dictators, because they are all powerful, end up becoming these larger than life absurd characters and obviously, anyone who disagrees with them is executed.”

Larger than life absurd characters? Sounds like the entire comedic repertoire of Sacha Baron Cohen. So go see Admiral General Aladeen get up to tricks in his new movie. It’s what Gaddafi would have wanted.

What do you think?

About The Author

Ross Ufberg

Ross Ufberg is a writer, translator and PhD student living in New York City. Beautiful Twentysomethings, his translation of the memoirs of Polish writer Marek Hlasko, will be published early next year.

6 Responses

  1. Tud

    Get you facts right, he did an interview as himself weeks ago on the Howard Stern Show.

  2. Rosebuds

    “The first joke ever documented, I think, is in the Bible, where Isaac’s real name [in Hebrew] means ‘he laughed.’ So he laughed at the concept that his wife was going to become pregnant. So maybe that’s the origin.”

    It was Abraham and/or Sarah who laughed after having Yitzy, wasn’t it?

  3. Omri

    Both Abraham and Sarah laugh about being told she’d bear him a son. But while the Hebrew version makes it plainly clear that she’s an old woman who thinks God is joking, I love that the King James verion makes it sound more like she’s laughing because God’s going to give Abraham viagra so she can have an orgasm.

    “…lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.

    And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

    And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

    Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.” (Genesis 18:1-15 KJV)

  4. The Color of Hebrew | Heeb

    […] which functions as an important in-joke in the films of Sacha Baron (most recently in the must-see The Dictator), will do just fine without the words of Alice Walker. Tags Alice Walker, Israel, Sacha […]

  5. Aaron Trank

    Not only the first documented joke, but also the first uncomfortable joke. “Sorry, Angel of the Lord [awkward silence] I thought that was the punch line…”


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