Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen (born 13 October 1971 in Staines, Surrey) is an English comedian notable for his highly successful comedy characters Ali G (an MC and gangster wannabe from Staines), Borat (a Kazakhstani reporter) and Bruno (a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter). Sacha Baron Cohen is a cousin of University of Cambridge Professor of Developmental Psychopathology Simon Baron-Cohen and is engaged to Australian model-actress Isla Fisher.

Baron Cohen was born into a middle-class Jewish family, the second of three sons of Gerald Baron Cohen and his wife Daniella. His father owns a menswear shop in Piccadilly and is originally from Wales, while his mother is an Iranian (Persian) born native of Israel.

Baron Cohen attended Saint Columba's College, an independent Catholic school in St Albans, Haberdashers' Aske's School, a private school in Elstree, and went on to study history at Christ's College, Cambridge. He was also an active member in the Jewish youth movement, Habonim Dror. Sacha Baron Cohen was a member of the Cambridge Footlights which went to the Edinburgh Festival.

In 1994 Channel 4 was planning a replacement for its series The Word and put out an open call for new presenters. Baron Cohen sent in a tape of himself in the character of Kristo, a fictional television reporter from Albania (who later became Borat, from Kazakhstan), that caught the attention of one producer who kept him in mind. Baron Cohen marked time by working for a Swindon based television company.

Baron Cohen shot to fame when his character Ali G started appearing on The Eleven O'Clock Show on Channel 4. Da Ali G Show began in 2000 and won the BAFTA for best comedy series the next year. In 2002, Ali G was the central character in the feature film Ali G Indahouse, in which he became elected to the United Kingdom's Parliament and had to foil a plot to bulldoze a community centre in his home town of Staines. The show was taken to the United States in 2003, where it aired on HBO. Baron Cohen often fools guests to appear on his show by sending them letters with HBO's letterhead and type.

Other characters created by Baron Cohen include Borat, a naive television reporter from Kazakhstan with a fervent hatred of Jews, an extreme hatred of gypsies (Roma people) and a misogynistic attitude. Baron Cohen's third alter ego is Bruno, a gay Austrian fashion show presenter, who often lures his subjects into unwittingly making provocative statements and engaging in embarrassing behaviour, as well as leading them to contradict themselves, often in the same interview. This was once done by Bruno asking the subjects to answer the yes or no questions by saying either "Ach-Ja" for yes or "Nicht-Nicht" for no.

Notable interviews have included writer Gore Vidal, real estate mogul Donald Trump, Egyptian millionare Mohamed Al Fayed, US politician Newt Gingrich, political commentator Pat Buchanan, linguist Noam Chomsky, former UN Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali (whom Baron Cohen, in his Ali G character, referred to as "Boutros Boutros Boutros Boutros-Ghali"), British ex-politician Neil Hamilton (to whom Baron Cohen, as Ali G, offered what was allegedly marijuana , which Hamilton accepted and smoked, creating some minor controversy in the British media) and journalist Andy Rooney. He also is a supporter of Comic Relief, and for the charity he has done interviews (as Ali G) with, among others, footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria.

He guest starred in the Season 5 finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Dustin Hoffman as a guide to Heaven. Baron Cohen has presented the MTV Europe Music Awards twice, first on November 8, 2001 in Frankfurt, Germany, as Ali G, and then on November 3, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal, as Borat. He also delivered the 2004 Class Day address at Harvard University as Ali G, the day before the commencement ceremony. He played the lemur king, King Julian, in the children's movie Madagascar released by Dreamworks Animation, in 2005.In the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, Baron Cohen's character Borat introduced Gnarls Barkley's performance of "Crazy". The audience, unfamiliar with Borat's "sense of humour," booed him when he started making anti-Semitic comments. Borat's appearence was cut from subsequent re-broadcasts. Baron Cohen has also co-starred as Jean Girard, the gay French Formula One driver, the racing rival to Will Ferrell in the comedy Talladega Nights.

A feature film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, based on the Ali-G Show character, is in post production and will be released on November 3, 2006. The film is about a crazy journey across the United States in an ice-cream van in which the main character is besotted by the idea of marrying Pamela Anderson. It is stated to be an unscripted mockumentary, but with some interviews with various American citizens that poke fun at many aspects of American culture. Also, there will be unpredictable performances such as Borat having a naked wrestling match with his obese friend at a meeting.

He has had some troubles because of the racist or prejudiced comments his characters make (see Da Ali G Show). HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer has replied to the criticisms in America with, "Through his alter-egos, he delivers an obvious satire that exposes people's ignorance and prejudice in much the same way All in the Family did years ago."

The government of Kazakhstan threatened him with legal action after the MTV EMA ceremony in Lisbon, and the authority in charge of the country's country-code top-level domain name removed the website that he had created for his character ( for alleged violation of the law. The New York Times (among others) has reported that Baron Cohen (in character as his Borat persona) has urged them on, stating “sue this jew!” He was, however, recently defended by Dariga Nazarbayeva, a politician and the daughter of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stated "We should not be afraid of humour and we shouldn't try to control everything, I think."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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