How does Ali G get his interviews

Does anyone know how he gets interviews with famous political people? Do they know hes a joke or what.

I think that for his first UK series he would pretend to be making a serious programme about whatever subject. For instance i read an article by Tony Benn (UK Labour politician) that said when he was contacted he was told they were doing a programme explaining politics to young people.

For his later interviews when he was well known i imagine that his interviewees knew beforehand what he was about though.

In person, Sascha Cohen (the man behind the glasses and under the du rag) is actually extremely clean-cut and well-spoken. He’s pretty much the antithesis of Ali. He’s the kind of guy you’d believe if he said, “I’m a filmmaker and I’d like to do a piece on you,” or whatever.

I’ve wondered about this for a long time. How stupid are the interviewees? Don’t they know that Ali will make them look like asses, or get them to perform some slightly humiliating task? The only answer is that they must think he is for real. The first time I saw his show on HBO I couldn’t figure out if it was for real or not. Seeing Ali interview Newt Gingrich was entirely amusing. He can make the most educated people explain the simplest of concepts, or painstakenly expain their own joke to the level that it’s not funny.

Here’s the story I’ve heard (no cite at the moment but I may find one – obviously they would be somewhat reticent about revealing their exact tricks, esp. as he has a second season coming out on HBO):

He went to a fair amount of trouble to set up dummy production companies, with their own stationery, publicists, etc. All of the staff (except Ali, who is billed as a “youth journalist” or “hip hop journalist”) are quite professional, and tell the celeb’s staff that this is an important and serious show to explain politics, or whatever, from an “urban youth” perspective.

Now, famous people are notoriously publicity-hungry, and few would turn down a television interview that might increase their profile.

So . . . the interview/cameras are being set up (all very professionally) and then (to paraphrase one interviewee/victim) “this guy in a tracksuit who I thought was carrying the cables starts talking to me.” Once the interview starts (and this is, I think, one of the more smart and satirical parts of his shtick), most interviewees are too polite (and frankly, too scared of seeming “racist” or whatever) to simply blurt out what they are all thinking: “Are you some kind of moron?” It comes across as a fairly effective indictment on “liberal” thinking that most guests play along with the most moronic questions for fear that Ali (or someone else) will respond to their criticism (as he sometimes does) by retorting “You’re just saying that because I is black” (which is even funnier given how clearly he isn’t black). A few interviewees do explode or tell him off, and that’s funny too.

I suspect one of the reasons he did his last series in the U.S. was because he was (till then) pretty underexposed/unknown there, and could get access to unsuspecting celebs. From what I saw of his latter years on U.K. television, almost all his victims knew exactly who he was because he was so famous there; accordingly, the act changed to a sort of shtick where they would grinningly play along with Ali, which struck me as far, far less funny. Kind of like a lame SNL skit with a celeb guest playing foil to Adam Sandler or some other tired character talking in an (allegedly) “funny ethnic voice.”

I wonder how well Cohen will be able to fool anyone in the next HBO series. While he’s still not a household name in the U.S., he’s certainly better known now, and more importantly, I suspect that P.R. flacks have been warned through the industry grapevine to be on the lookout for any “urban youth journalist” interview requests.