[Marxism] More on Ali G

Mine Doyran mine.doyran at verizon.net
Tue Jul 20 10:32:03 MDT 2004

His bio says that Cohen wrote "acclaimed theses" on black and jewish
cultures, comparing the experience they face as minorities.

This may explain his motive for the Ali G figure as well.

Anyhow, the show is just too hilarious and witty. It does a great job of
exposing the stupidity of the mainstream society. Any criticism of it on the
basis of political correctness makes little sense frankly.


Sacha was born in December 1970. His mother, Daniella, is from Israel and
his father, Gerald, is from Wales. The Baron Cohen family owns several
businesses based both in London and the Cardiff area, namely 'Baron Suits'
in London's Knightsbridge, 'Calders Outfitters' and 'Woodford Ltd.' in

>From 1974, Sacha attended Haberdasher's-Akes public school along with his
two brothers, Erran and Amnon. Apparently, even in these early days Sacha
was making quite an impression on other people. An old teacher commented on
Sacha's abundance of creativity and an old schoolmate remembered: "He seemed
to have [his basketball] permanently attached to his right hand which was
funny in a school without a basketball team!" It was at Haberdasher's that
Sacha first met Dan Mazer, who was to become the producer of 'Ali G' years

Being Jewish had an impact on our man from a young age. At some stage, Sacha
joined the Habonim Jewish Youth Group and in 1989, he took part in their
performance of Neil Simon's 'Biloxi Blues'. It was at this point, at the age
eighteen that he decided to take a journey that would change his life. Sacha
spent a year at the Rosh Hanikra Kibbutz in Israel, taking an intimate look
at how his mother's family must have lived, and learning about himself and
his faith.

Upon his return to the UK, Sacha took advantage of his education and
attended Christ's College Cambridge University. Apparently, Baron Cohen
wrote acclaimed theses on Black and Jewish cultures, highlighting the
difficulties that ethnic minorities face. During his time studying for his
History Degree, he nurtured his taste for acting. In 1991, he played
'Doolittle the Dustman' in the Cambridge Footlights production of 'My Little
Fairy'; in 1992 he took the lead role in a West End production of 'Fiddler
on the Roof'; and in 1993 Sacha reportedly stole the show for singing in a
performance of 'My Fair Lady'!

After obtaining his Degree, Baron Cohen decided his passion was for satire.
For two years he struggled working in restaurants and in comedy clubs until
he was offered a chance from the Paramount Comedy Channel in 1996. Sacha's
job was to entertain viewers in the links between programmes. He portrayed a
bleached-blond Austrian interviewer called 'Bruno' whose job was to pose
embarrassing questions to celebrities at fashion shows throughout Europe.
This continued through 1997 when he also snagged the role of Presenter for a
short-lived Granada show for teenagers, called 'F2F'.

Those few roles obviously caught someone's attention because in 1998, Sacha
began work for Channel Four's satire of late night news, 'The 11 o'Clock
Show'. Apparently he had captured the role by sending in a tape to the
producer of himself posing as an Albanian reporter asking questions to
members of a fox-hunting group. 'The Ali G Website' reports that the
Albanian character suggested to the hunters that prison overcrowding could
be reduced if the prisoners were set free to be chased by hounds, and
apparently the hunters agreed "Bloody good idea!". The producers of the new
show were clearly impressed and asked Sacha to come up with a new character,
and Harry Thompson, the former producer, decided on the name of Ali G ("to
blur the ethnic identity further").

After filming the pilot episode of 'The 11 o'Clock Show', Sacha worked on
the TV movie 'Live from the Lighthouse'. The piece featured a host of
celebrities and comedians including Stephen Fry, Harry Enfield, Steve Coogan
(as Alan Partridge) and even Noel Gallagher. Sacha gave people a taste of
things to come as he portrayed the controversial 'Ali G.'

'The 11 o'Clock Show' ran its first and second series with 'Ali G' being the
notable highlight. In fact, ratings slumped when Ali was promoted to his own
series. It was Ali G's job to be the 'Voice of Youth', to interview
'important people' on current issues. However, it was the use of risqué
language and interests (such as drug use) that often left interviewees
wondering what had hit them. For his fantastic work on the 11 O'Clock Show,
Sacha won Best Newcomer in the 1999 British Comedy Awards.

Due to the monumental success of Sacha's 'Ali G' character, the new show,
entitled 'Da Ali G Show', came to British screens in 2000 and featured new
interviews and sketches in the studio and on tour. A new character from
Sacha was introduced, 'Borat': a TV presenter from Kazakhstan. Ali announced
him to the world by saying, "...After watching the free five minutes of the
Fantasy Channel, me feel relaxed enough to flick through the other foreign
sattelite stations." And this is where he claimed to have found Borat,
producing his Guide to Britain. 'Borat' proved to be just as popular, if not
moreso, as 'Ali G'. As praise of his efforts continued on, Sacha won
Personality of the Year 2000 Award from TV Quick Awards in September 2000
(he said "Thanks for this very stylish award. Sorry me can't be there
tonight but is me and my Julie's anniversary. It is exactly two years since
I first took her up the wrongun'. To celebrate, me is takin' her to the
place where it all happened, which is the KFC in Egham High Street.
Respect!"), and earlier in the year he won Best TV Entertainment Production
at the Ethnic Multicultural Awards despite accusations of 'Ali G' as being
'racist.' In fact, many people have slated critics for the accusations,
stating that if anything, the character mocks white people more than any
racial group.

Sacha received so much acclaim for his creations that even Madonna wanted a
piece of him. She contacted his agent to request an appearance of Ali G in
her video for the title track of her latest album, "Music." In it, she and
Ali go toe-to-toe at turntables in cartoon form.

Sacha Baron Cohen is currently working on writing a new sit-com, tentatively
entitled 'Scrambled Eggs', and has reportedly knocked back any rumours of a
second series of 'Da Ali G Show'. However, 'Ali G' will be the host for the
launch night of Channel Four's new digital station, 'E4' on January 18th,
2001 which will also feature new 'Borat' 'Guide to Britain' sketches.

Stay tuned to this website for all the latest information about Sacha and
his creations!

Mine A. Doyran
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Political Science
Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
University at Albany, S.U.N.Y.
135 Western Avenue, Milne Hall
Albany, NY 12222
mine.doyran at verizon.net

More information about the Marxism mailing list