Sacha Baron Cohen in the minor country of CanadaI have never actually seen a whole episode of 'The Ali G Show' but have come from glancing blows with occasional episodes to develop quite a respect for Sacha Baron Cohen's ability to make me laugh. And to see into the core of things.
Perhaps the most classic performance is this Ali G interview with his 'main man, Professor Norman Chomsky'.
Chomsky handles it all with a somewhat befuddled sense of bemusement but Cohen's apparent stupidities are wonderfully incisive, and he is no fool.
He has a movie out now featuring one of his other personae, Borat, a Kazakhstani reporter trying to make sense of the United States.
This film got a showing at the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the most painful orgies of self-congratulation I have ever seen a cultural community prostitute itself to (I have to suffer through it annually - the local media actually get really excited because Reese Witherspoon is in town, and worse). Just start reading the text on this page. What is delicious is that the projector broke down during the showing and the film could not be shown to the end.
Cohen tried to calm the disappointed crowd with a speech that, according to today's Globe and Mail, included this passage, which I think is utterly perfect:
It is a very great honour to make a visit to the minor nation of Canadas. Our countries are very similar, and not only because of the projector system.
I suspect he had not been long in Toronto but he saw an awful lot in that short time. His read on Canada was as quick as his read on Norman.
UPDATE: Andrew Potter found this same story with a somewhat different slant.