Sacha Baron Cohen agreed to present as himself at Oscars, did Ali G instead

Sacha Baron Cohen has a new film, The Brothers Grimsby, coming out in a couple of weeks. It’s like a Guy Ritchie movie meets Johnny English and it looks incredibly dumb. The trailer didn’t even make me laugh. Cohen didn’t make me laugh at the Oscars, either, where he presented The film Room in character as Ali G and made such cringeworthy jokes as “I know what you was thinking when I walked on. Here comes yet another token black presenter.” He also continued the trend, already established by Chris Rock with that awful Price Waterhouse kid bit, of using racist Asian stereotypes as excuses for jokes. “How come there’s no Oscarer [sic] for those very hardworking little yellow people with tiny dongs, you know, the minions?” Poor Olivia Wilde, who was on stage with him, laughed uncomfortably and had to hold it together to present Brooklyn afterwards.

Only Cohen wasn’t supposed to come on as Ali G, he had promised Oscar producers that he would present as himself. His wife, Isla Fischer, smuggled in the small items for his costume and helped him prepare in the bathroom at the last minute. (This news came out a couple of days ago but I’m just hearing about it now.)

Cohen revealed to Good Morning Britain, it was a bit he had to sneak by Oscars producers who forbade him from dressing up as one of his characters on the show. “The truth is we actually had to sneak it in,” he explains. “The Oscars sat me down beforehand and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order; they wanted me to actually just present it as myself.” Naturally, he turned to his partner in Oscars crime, wife Isla Fisher, to help him fake food poisoning and slap on the beard: “But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets and I managed to get away with it. What would I do without her?” Proving once again that the couple who crashes the Oscars together, stays together.

And yes, Cohen was aware you might find his transparently racist Minions joke terribly racist. But because he got the approval of Chris Rock (himself guilty of another racist Asian joke last night), Cohen went ahead it with anyway: “I was a bit worried how they’d react to the first gag but I bumped into Chris Rock on the way on and pitched him the gig and he gave me the thumbs up, so I went for it.”

[From Vulture]

So that racist Asian joke was fine because Chris Rock approved it, according to Cohen. Do you remember when Cohen attended the Oscars in 2012 as The Dictator and spilled ashes on the red carpet, getting them all over Ryan Seacrest? Legit news outlets had reported ahead of time that Cohen was warned not to come in character but of course he did anyway. So they kind of know what they’re getting with him. I don’t think many Oscars producers were sweating his appearance afterwards. Rock made his own gaffes and the entire ceremony was a bloated mess as usual.

Oh and I would have continued to feel sorry for Olivia Wilde but she had to go and tweet this.

Here’s Ali G presenting:

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66 Responses to “Sacha Baron Cohen agreed to present as himself at Oscars, did Ali G instead”

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  1. Brunswickstoval says:

    I actually thought he was pretty funny but I’ve watched Ali G for years and love the character.

  2. mkyarwood says:

    That’s his shtick, tho. Also, Ali G absolutely says terrible, racist, sexist nonsense all the time but that’s the point of the character. He’s spoofing white people in Britain who live a life of white privilege, but take on aspects of black culture like it’s stuff you can buy in a store.

    • Sixer says:

      No. He’s spoofing poor, white, mixed race AND black people in Britain who actually do live in a cultural melange and who actually do have native accents from that cultural melting pot. He is mocking POVERTY. He is part of the revolting poverty porn that infects British media. He is not Shameless. He is a posh boy who laughs at the plebs. And his comedy is racist, not satirical of racism.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Thank you.

      • Rade says:

        Agree with @Sixer. His comedy targets the disabled, Muslims, women, Central Asians, Asians, Arabs, black people, mixed race people, gay people and poor people. That’s a hell of a lot of minorities as the butt of his jokes. He’s not funny or cutting edge. It’s just viciousness disguised as satire. And he gets away with it because he’s a member of that very specific white, privately educated, Oxford/Cambridge axis that he supposedly skewers.

        On top of this, did he really think it was appropriate to do this little skit before the presentation for Room?

      • Shambles says:

        Yep. And it’s obnoxious as sh!t that he was told not to come in character and he did it anyway. It’s as if the producers were subtly trying to tell him what an a$$hole he is and he’s just like… “They don’t understand my art.” Oh, so irritating.

      • mkyarwood says:

        Okay, that’s put me in my place, but I still think they should have known he’d do it!

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        It’s not just the UK media. Only German television uses mostly reality tv disguised in a pseudo documentary style.

        As to Cohen, I think he honestly wants to do what mkyarwood described but he’s just not good enough to get it right so he does the opposite. He’s not sharp or witty so he’s always relied on the shock value of his characters. If they are outrageous enough, nobody will notice his lack of skill. Only, his characters don’t stand the test of time. Ali G is no Basil Fawlty.

      • Naya says:

        So perfect. I spent some time in the UK back in the early noughties and I remember my British friends raving about Ali G. So I watched the movies. I got through all of them because the ambush interviews were hilarious but I truthfully had an uneasy sense that there was another joke hidden in there that certain types of people could access and I couldnt. And that was when I really thought the actor was North African and had actually lived in that suburb he kept mocking. Imagine my horror when I discovered his real background. Now I wonder if the friends who recommended it got the “insider joke”. Were they recommending it because they thought an American minority would relate to the simulated “buffoonery” of minorities in their culture? Aaaargh!

      • Sixer says:

        @ Naya

        If you actually unpack Ali G, it’s really quite shocking. The assumption is that only stupid, poor, white boys would appropriate Jamaican speech patterns because, after all, who would want to appropriate THAT? Hilarious, right? And at the time, the posh people called that accent by the pejorative “Jafaican”. However, what had ACTUALLY happened was a spontaneous language change coming from multicultural communities who were all living together, and, by and large, getting on reasonably well.

        So this character is imagined by a rich posh person with contempt for both poor white people and poor black people based on a total elitist misunderstanding of what was happening in London.

        (None of this is to say that racism isn’t alive and well in the UK. It is. Or that cultural appropriation doesn’t happen in the UK. It does. Just not in the way this privileged idiot imagines it is and it does.)

      • Naya says:

        Thanks Sixer. Thats very enlightening. I always thought going by the do-rag he wears that he was doing black face without the face paint. I get it now, so he is a white character spoofing the white people who didnt resist the melting pot effect. God this man! Also the “me, Julie” business is another level of misogyny and I dont buy its just the character either. I think Ali G (and Borat!) is his outlet for his woman hating. He gets to say things about women that most Oxbridges have to save for their secret skulls meetings.

      • Sarah(too) says:

        I tweeted on Oscar night and I stand by it. I am so over Sacha Baron Cohen.

      • kri says:

        On board all the way with you, @Sixer. He is appalling. Also, I cannot stand Ryan Seacrest, and Cohen made me feel sorry for him. So I double dislike him.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Naya

        Exactly. And one “type” you WON’T see SBC mocking? The Oxbridge twits and the Bullingdon boys and their lovely initiation ceremonies, such as dead pig shagging. This, obvs, is totally off limits. Says it all.

      • iijgfj says:

        Yes, Borat is a real douche and I don’t know what that cute little ginger sees in him.

    • SugarQuill says:

      While Sixer et al. are absolutely entitled to their opinion, I’m kind of with you on this, mykarwood. For all intents and purposes, SBC seems like an intelligent guy that’s not lacking in awareness, so I have a hard time agreeing with this sentiment, but to each their own. Maybe I’m missing something, but I have never interpreted minorities or disenfranchised groups of any kind to be the butt of the joke in any of the SBC skits or movies I’ve seen (admittedly, I haven’t seen everything and it’s been a while since I’ve watched his stuff). To me, the ignorance and prejudice of the person targetting those groups always seemed to be the butt of the joke.

      Also, SBC aka Ali G made Donald Trump walk out in a huff a minute into their interview. My enemy’s enemy is my friend.

      • mkyarwood says:

        Growing up, all the men my dad knew truly made fun of people, and I found it deplorable. I was forever snapping at old, white men. I guess I took it in a different context because I was a teenager when Ali G came to television. It made me think differently and realize the bubble I lived in had different forms. I always thought comedy like this is meant to stir up anger and controversy with the intent of creating a wider discussion, whereas a bunch of asshole sitting together in a room dissing the poor/black/gay/female/anyone else is the problem staying stifled.

      • SugarQuill says:

        “I always thought comedy like this is meant to stir up anger and controversy with the intent of creating a wider discussion, […].”

        Yes! That doesn’t mean that this type of comedy is without its flaws or that it can’t be reevaluated over time and in different contexts, but it ultimately sparks a conversation. It did so before, and, by all accounts, it is doing so right now on this thread. And that’s always a good thing.

    • Talise says:

      You really don’t know what the hell you are talking about…..

  3. lucy2 says:

    He seems exhausting.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      That’s exactly what I thought. It must be exhausting being married to him.

      • Aussie girl says:

        Yes that’s what I was thinking. I would be constantly cringing because I don’t find him funny.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        That’s what I thought too…I felt sorry for Isla Fisher.

      • swak says:

        I would feel sorry for her, but she was in on this and helped with it. So no, no feelings of sorry for her.

    • Flora says:

      He is! I spent a few days in his presence on set. I honestly thought he was directing the film, because he changing things despite the director’s objections. It just went on and on. I do have to admit that he is very good at improv, but I’m not a fan of his brand of humour. He just takes toilet humour too far.

  4. Sixer says:

    No, no, wrong reaction, Celebitchy. I want you to LOVE this man. I want all Americans to LOVE this man so much that he moves stateside and never darkens the shores of the UK again. I know this is not a favourable ambition of mine insofar as you guys are concerned, but if you could do me this favour I would be eternally grateful.

    I particularly hate Ali G and his mocking of MLE and the British working class. He. Is. Not. Funny. He’s just nasty.

    On a lighter note, there is a funny Twitter going around about Grimsby. “Grimsby: In which the privately-schooled, Oxbridge-educated, multimillionaire Sacha Baron Cohen invites us to laugh at his latest creation: a bloke with no job and 11 kids.”

    I really cannot stand this man.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      What a tool. We have enough of those already, thanks anyway.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Thanks Sixer. On the other side of the Atlantic, I always felt like I was “supposed” to like him and find him funny …. and never did, and thought it might be some British thing that didn’t translate. Thanks to you now I know he’s just stupid. Also, isn’t it like “The ’80s called, they want their schtick back?”

    • Sixer says:

      Phew. I thought I was going to get a pile on, telling me I’m too thin-skinned and don’t know satire when I see it! Thanks, guys.

      Working class people in London (those under 40 at least) really don’t speak Cockney any more. They speak Multicultural London English, which is a mix of Cockney and Indian/Pakistani accents, plus Jamaican patois. This has developed because the communities in Britain and where they live aren’t really segregated by ethnicity, but mostly by wealth/social class.

      Ali G wants you to think he’s laughing at white appropriation. But he isn’t. He is laughing at poor people, of all races. Laughing at poor people is everywhere in British media, from Ali G to poverty porn reality shows. And I hate it. The whole Ali G persona is founded on elitist and racist assumptions.

      Here’s a reasonably good piece on MLE:

      • Lyla Lotus says:

        I have to disagree with what I’m reading here! The people mocked by Ali G.. They are imbeciles! It is nowhere near as prevalent as it once was, people dressed in oversized clothes and big chains speaking in the Ali G voice, those same kids now want to be like Joey Essex or similar. It has changed with the fashion of the time, it is appropriation and the people who are being mocked by Ali G are complete duhbrains.

    • Esther says:

      ew i didnt know any of this, all i ever remember of him was that he was in a Madonna video (thats how old i am) thanks for posting.

    • Pinky says:

      I learned something new today. Thank you for enlightening me through several posts!


      • Katenotkatie says:

        Thanks so much for the analysis, Sixer! I’m sorry to say I hadn’t thought that deeply into SBC’s “comedy,” but I know now that I won’t be laughing at his jokes at any point in the future.

  5. Margo S. says:

    That was a racist joke but I expect nothing less from Ali g. He always says bone headed things like that. Is that an excuse? I’m not sure. But I do know that Chris rocks joke with the three Asian children rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe because children were involved. I don’t know. It’s like don’t say anything about black people but Asians, who cares? It just doesn’t seem right.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      That’s because it isn’t right.

      Both of them said really stupid, insulting things, whether in or out of character — slipping into character isn’t an excuse for racism. I’m thinking about the Archie Bunker character in “All in the Family” – something about the way he was written and performed made people think and become more self-aware — not like this dated, self-congratulatory Ali G nonsense.

  6. Lucky says:

    Odoh,some old farts had their feathers fluffed by a comedian.
    Wah f.king waaaah!
    And for the record performing as Ali G,the white dude who desperately tries to be black fitted in perfectly with this year’s theme of diversity inappreciation.
    Maybe if Hollywood stopped taking themselves so seriously and realized that all their events and premiers and awards shows are just fluff,filler in the grand scheme of things maybe we’d make some strides towards some actual diversity.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Maybe when their “fluff” doesn’t shut so many people out of the wealth and status available to people in a major American industry, and when their “fluff” doesn’t affect the self-concept of so many people of different ethnicities and cultures/women and girls/poor people, and when their “fluff” doesn’t promote ongoing feelings of superiority among the people in power who continue to discriminate more broadly in Western life, then we’ll make some strides toward actual diversity.

      • Lucky says:

        But that’s kind of the point I was trying to make and was too lazy to type.In my very humble opinion the actual root of the problem is that we,Average Joes and Janes allow ourselves to be swayed by Hollywood’s trends,trends that are perpetuated by old white men who hold the power of(and I’m exaggerating here) 90% of Hollywood.That’s why I love it when anybody mocks them and makes them squirm in their seats for even a little bit.
        This year that included the host,Chris Rock,presenter Ali G and Jenny Beavan.
        Maybe they can show us that Hollywood shouldn’t be taken seriously is what I’m trying to say.

    • Palar says:

      +1000 I’m just sick of the whinging!

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      So racism is fine as long as it’s cloaked in humor. Got it.

      • vauvert says:

        GNAT, what do you want to bet that those who found the shtick funny are white?? And not poor, or immigrant either?
        It gets exhausting dealing with so much stupidity and blindness, really it does, but like I tell my son, you can’t cure stupid. You can only hope that if you reach them young enough, you can temper some of their worst tendencies. I bet those who think mocking minorities is funny would be perfectly fine if comedians took slices of their life, whatever they may be, and mocked them on stage. (I would start with ” Drumpf supporters”)

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Exactly GNAT have encountered that attitude so many times. It also makes me wonder about humor itself because picking on people isn’t funny. Seems like too many “comedians” have found a socially acceptable outlet for their bigotry. Real humour brings out the universal in the human condition and does not divide people. These “comics” seem just plain mean and self-absorbed.

    • Dromedary says:


  7. anon1 says:

    The Academy should ban him from presenting if he can’t be trusted to keep his word. No more ridiculously pricey gift bags for you Sacha.
    He isn’t funny, he’s stale and reeking a bit of desperation.

    • SloaneY says:

      It is very unprofessional. I personally have never really “got” Ali G. I do think it’s interesting, though, that Rock was given a complete carte blanche, but everyone else was forced to a specific script.

  8. Lurker says:

    I can’t stand SBC and his tired, unfunny schtick. I don’t know how Isla Fisher stands him.

    • Rade says:

      She helped him get ready, hogging the disabled toilet for 40 minutes, no less. So I’d guess she’s pretty onboard with his schtick.

      But then again, Oscars. No disabled people would need that toilet. None were invited, I suppose. (I pray I’m wrong, and there were many, many disabled attendees).

      • Lurker says:

        As if anyone disabled was invited. Sad but true. If black people, and every other racial/cultural minority aren’t at the table, disabled people surely aren’t.

        Gross. It’s all just so gross. The white privilege blinders on this are amazing (not in a good way).

        I can’t decide which of SBC’s characters I hate the most, either. I lived in London during his Ali G phase and I never “got it”. I just thought he was an idiot with a stupid show.

    • perplexed says:

      Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has wondered what Isla Fisher sees in him.

  9. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    …whole thing was a train wreck, not shocked the stories of how off the rails it was are coming in more and more.

    I think Chris should have politely stepped down when he had the chance, this was a trap that wasn’t going to be so easily escaped and it’s clear he got caught in it and made plenty of stupid jokes to help the process.

  10. LAK says:

    If you are going to be offended, you might as well be offended by Ali G since that character is a riff on a type of poverty culture in Britain.

    And he ALWAYS says offensive things as Ali G.

  11. bread says:

    Ali G? Have we jumped back to 2002 somehow?

  12. Nancy says:

    The beautiful Olivia had to present with him, poor thing. He’s such a douche. On the red carpet, Seacrest actually looked very nervous when he approached him, as though he might throw something else at him. Real class act….ugh

  13. Grant says:

    SBC hasn’t been relevant since 2007 so I’m frankly quite shocked that he even got an invite to present at the Oscars.

  14. Harryg says:

    I can’t stand him.

  15. Lambda says:

    SBC is the only comedian that engenders a gag response from me, when he’s in costume. Like, I’m not even being hyperbolic, there’s a psychosomatic reflex of throwing up when I see him, and it’s gotten worse in the past ten years, since I first watched his comedy. It’s not the way he looks, but I find his comedy mean spirited and revolting. I find his success revolting too. I’m actually glad that Sixer and others above helped me understand why I find this guy gross.

  16. Kelly says:

    I hate the Ali G character. It’s offensive, old and has been pounded into the ground. He’s like a 5th grade boy with flatulent jokes. Get over it and get on to the next stage. Please!

    SBC has a lot of personality he could channel into some good acting. Supposedly he is back on board to play Freddy Mercury. Now that is a part I would like to see him take on, but not this nasty schtick.

  17. Marianne says:

    And the Oscars will soon learn and eventually he wont be welcome back at all.

    Im sure Olivia tweeted that so that she didn’t get any hate directed her way.

  18. Miss Kitty says:

    According to The Guardian, he used that disabled bathroom stall for forty minutes. Forty minutes. I hope no one with a real disability needed it. How absolutely thoughtless and selfish.

  19. Girl7 says:

    I wish, for just once, that SBC would do something as himself! I think he’s handsome and doesn’t seem like a bad guy, just a bit tiring to have him always be on. I don’t mind some of his characters! They have moments, for sure!! When he came out at the Oscars I actually and audibly sighed in frustration. Don’t you think Isla, at some point, is like “you know babe, how about you just do this straight?” I know she smuggled the props in for him, but even she must have a breaking point with her husband!

  20. iheartgossip says:

    I don’t find his type of comedy funny, at all. I’m sure he is a fine person and all, just not my type of funny

  21. pinetree13 says:

    Olivia’s “dress” is hideous. Such a shame since she’s such a beautiful girl. It’s like revealing toilet paper stuck to her nipples.

    Also I’ve never watch Ali G but remember seeing commercials for it several years ago and it didn’t seem funny at all.

  22. Mavis says:

    Ali G is supposed to be from Staines not London. Staines is a pretty boring town in Surrey. Having grown-up in London and now living near Staines I can confirm it is not very multicultural really. Quite a lot of Polish peolple but not exact a melting pot. Its also not especially poor. Ali G is mocking a certain type of white kid who wants to be from the mean streets but is in fact from a commuter town in the Home Counties.