UK Dopers - Ali G - Black/white/both

Is Ali G black? He looks very white, but he talks about being black… I think he’s a white guy acting that way just for the entertainment value, but I could be wrong… anyone know?

He is half israeli, half welsh.

The whole thing is a joke.

You can read about him here:

Amongst other things, he has a degree from Cambridge. Although it doesn’t say so here, I am told that he was awarded a first class degree. That won’t mean much to people in the US. It means that he received a GPA of about 3.8 from the most academic (generally accepted) university in th UK.

I am actually a friend of one of his ‘victims’, Jacob Rees-Mogg. I saw the letter that was written by Ali G to him requesting an interview. It was from the ‘Asian Youth Development Organisation’. Jacob was running for parliament at the last election and obviously accepted the invitation to increase his exposure. It is interesting speaking to him about the interview. There is actually a clock that is on the mantlepiece in the background during the interview. This allows you to understand quite how Ali G has perfected his form of comedy. The interview lasts for over two hours but is edited down to about 5-6 minutes. Basically, he asks perfectly normal questions for the majority of the time but throws in the hysterical ones occasionally.

His real name’s Sacha Baron Cohen, and he’s stirred up some controversy in the British Jewish community, some of whose members are concerned his Ali G act is veering towards racism.

I think his act’s drifted from it’s original concept – as I understood it, Sacha Cohen was parodying white guys hanging with a small time, aspiring-to-be-bad suburban posse. Whether that posse was black or Asian I was never quite sure – I always thought Asian because of the Staines thing but the ‘interpretations’ I’ve read in the media suggest black…

That’s just my opinion…not suggesting it’s wholly accurate.

Have you heard the single he’s done with Shaggy? Quality!

Yeah, but have you seen his movie? Crap!

Ali G started as a parody of someone who wanted so much to be member of the urban, black, youth culture, it being so much cooler than being a white Jew It was funny then, as it poked fun at just about everything, himself included. But you can imagine that some of what he was doing really pushed the envelope of political correctness. Some could see the funny side, others didn’t.

But now the joke’s worn really thin and he has practically become part of what he satirised. As soon as he became ‘real’, a lot of what he was saying became ‘real’ and thus unacceptable. He’s also made it his job to upset as many people as he can for publicity, ending up as a bit of a prat who says rude words on day-time radio for their shock value. It’s not funny anymore, hence the obligatory crap movie.

He also does a character called ‘Borat’, basically a clueless Kazakhstani TV presenter who gets away with saying and doing really stupid things because people think he’s just a confused foreigner.

I don’t know if there’s any American examples of this kind of humour. From what I’ve seen it seems to pretty much bemuse them. Paul Kaye did something very similar with “Dennis Pennis”, a TV interviewer character he made up. He did a series ambushing American celebs in the street or at premiers, and I don’t think one of them cottoned on that he was a wind-up. I guess they thought he was just a strange American bloke who worked for the BBC.

The closest I can think of would be Tom Green. Personally, I used to love Ali G on the 11 O’Clock Show but now I’m not so sure, for all the reasons you’ve given. His interview on Parkinson was a new low point for both of them - it was just product placement on the BBC for a shitty film.

I realise Tom Green’s Canadian, by the way.

The whole “black” thing started in a very early Ali G interview - I forget with whom - and the interviewee made a comment to the effect of “black people, like yourself, etc…” You could see Ali trying hard to keep a straight face, and from then on, it was a regular feature of his interviews - to throw in an “Is it cause I’s black?” question to see if he could get a reaction…



That was quality!