The characters of Sacha Baron Cohen

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From the May 17, 2012 edition

Sacha Baron Cohen: fearless satirical genius or guy with a rapidly emptying bag of tricks?

This week’s release of “The Dictator” will tell. Now that he has officially run out of characters from his “Da Ali G Show,” Baron Cohen moves on to a new alter ego, fictional dictator Admiral General Aladeen.

He’s known for throwing himself into the roles until the actor line blurs, so let’s look back on his signature characters. Very nice!

Ali G

Hometown: Staines, England

Characteristics: Thick British accent, wannabe “junglist,” comical ignorance of political concepts, overuse of the term “Booyakasha!”

Highlight: In an interview with late “60 Minutes” sourpuss Andy Rooney, G’s slang got the best of Rooney. “What language do you speak?” “Yo fo real, English. I is from England.”

Lowlight: “Ali G Indahouse” was Baron Cohen’s first attempt to put one of his improvisational characters in a scripted comedy. It didn’t go so well.

Borat

Hometown: Kuzcek, Kazakhstan

Characteristics: Thick Kazakhstani accent, comical cultural misunderstandings, thick moustache, unique bathing attire

Highlight: Borat’s movie is filled with them, but I’ll go with the earnest rendition of his made-up Kazakhstani national anthem performed before an unsuspecting rodeo audience.

Lowlight: Nude wrestling with his overweight male traveling companion? Nah, that was pretty funny, too.

Brüno

Hometown: Vienna, Austria

Characteristics: Thick Austrian accent, comical flamboyance and fashion obsession

Highlight: Brüno “accidentally” dropped trou during a hotel room interview with a visibly shaken Ron Paul. Free market or not, it marked the end of the interview.

Lowlight: Brüno’s MTV Movie Awards stunt involved him doing a bare-assed “accidental” drop-in on a supposedly enraged Eminem, who, after a few days of mock controversy, revealed the whole thing was staged.

Admiral General Aladeen

Hometown: The (fictional) Republic of Wadiya

Characteristics: Thick Wadiyan accent, comical cultural misunderstandings, affinity for brutal dictatorship (reportedly based on Muammar al-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein)

Highlight: After much brouhaha over whether he would be allowed to appear at the Academy Awards, an in-character Baron Cohen dumped an urn containing the supposed ashes of Kim Jong-Il on a tuxedoed Ryan Seacrest. Fun fact: Pancake mix can double as a cremated dictator.

Lowlight: Are we ready for 9/11 humor? We’ll see. Early reviews are mixed, but we’ve got faith.

[Bruno photo credit: Mark Schwartzbard photo]