Da Ali G Show is a 30-minute comedy show that ran on Channel 4 in 2000 before Channel Hopping to HBO from 2003 to 2006. It stars Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays three different fake journalists, Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, and Brüno Gehard. The show features the three journalists interviewing various figures and in various awkward situations. The Channel 4 and HBO runs together total 18 episodes, with the first 6 on BBC, for 3 6-episode seasons.
Ali G (whose "real" name is Alistair Leslie Graham) is the main character. He appears as a hip-hop artist, speaks in American hip-hop vernacular with a British accent, and is almost unbearably ignorant. He is the leader of the West Staines Massiv, a posse from "West" Staines, a suburb of London.
Ali G interviews people in the guise of a British talk show host interested in the media and politics. Some of his more impressive interviews include ones with Boutros Boutros-Ghali (the U.N. Secretary General at the time; he called him Boutros Boutros Boutros Ghali); politicians Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, and James Baker (former U.S. Secretary of State, to whom he refers as "this geeza"); linguist Noam Chomsky (whom he refers to as "Norman Chompsky"); and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. In an interview with C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, Ali G refers to the "dong bone" as an example of a bone that grows.
Ali G did a movie, called Ali G Indahouse, which is completely scripted.
Borat is now the most well-known of the three alter-egos in Da Ali G Show. Borat is an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, but friendly Kazakhstani who is in America to learn about its culture. Borat's schtick is to make people uncomfortable by seeming backward and/or prejudiced or to get them to agree with his statements. Since he is played as a foreigner, people are usually hesitant to call him on any of his difficulties. Borat's comments are often anti-Semitic (although Baron Cohen is Jewish) and completely insensitive, as when he comments that Barbara Bush's last name is used in his language to mean pubic hair, while he's talking to a friend and admirer of Mrs. Bush.
Brüno is a gay Austrian fashionista and journalist. Brüno's typical gags run in two forms: making people uncomfortable with his aggressive homosexuality and getting people in the fashion industry to go along with his hateful, ignorant and absurd statements. Some examples are interviewees saying that Osama bin Laden is cool, that people with bad fashion should be sent to concentration camps, and that fashion has saved more lives than doctors. There's a Brüno movie, too, in which Brüno's, er, member makes an appearance, along with Harrison Ford.
This show provides examples of:
- A Cappella: Ali G is a wannabe hip-hop artist and he would do beatboxing from time to time, often improvising on the topic that was discussed. As if the guests were not trolled enough already.
- Ambiguously Brown: Baron Cohen has a dark complexion, and in the show it's not clear what race his Ali G character is supposed to be, given his appearance and ambiguous name. In the film, it's revealed that his full name is Alistair Leslie Graham and that he's a white suburbanite who pretends that he's a black gangster.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Borat's Kazakh is actually mostly Hebrew. He also writes his notes in Hebrew, which has almost given up the joke on at least one occasion.
- Blatant Lies: In one segment of Da Ali G Show, Bruno asks a panel of fashion critics their opinions and then asks them to say the exact opposite thing for the cameras. They are all more than happy to do whatever the host asks them.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Borat says, "In Kazakhstan we have many hobbies: disco dancing, archery, rape, and table tennis."
- Bavarian Fire Drill: One sequence has Bruno attend a fashion show claiming to be the "muse" of a fictional designer. The designers attending to show, apparently too afraid to appear out of touch, pretend to know who the designer is and accept Bruno as a model. He manages to con his way onto the runway.
- Brutal Honesty: All three characters frequently insult people to their faces, usually behind a facade of not intending to do so, and sometimes the less patient interviewees will dish out brutal honesty of their own. C. Everett Koop, for example, was in no mood for Ali G's ridiculousness:Ali: Is the brain's memory any good?
Koop: The brain's memory is perfect.
Ali: So how come I can't remember me PIN number?
Koop: Well... I could give you a quick answer and say you're stupid.
- Buxom Is Better: Ali G says to a group of doctors and experts on medical ethics that he heard that some women got their breasts reduced. He thinks it's selfish as it's just one woman getting rid of backache, but pleasure is taken away from numerous men. One really cool doctor (who might have figured out that they were being trolled) politely explains to him that those breasts are grossly enlarged and not attractive. Ali assures him he was talking about nice ones, and the doctor suggests that it's a matter of taste. Ali is impressed and wants to chat about that after.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Both Ali G and Borat suffer from this.
- Cringe Comedy: Baron Cohen often intentionally creates the most uncomfortable situations he can for the sake of humor, usually by having his characters completely misunderstand what they're being told (to absurd degrees), forcing their opinions on the interviewees, being physically inappropriate, or just saying completely tasteless things at the worst possible times.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The British show has a laugh track. Bruno also clearly has Borat's mustache dyed blond, which he lacks in the HBO version and the film.
- The Eponymous Show
- Global Ignorance: Ali G
- Insane Troll Logic: Ali G claims that after seeing a PlayStation 1, he came up with the idea for the PlayStation 2, and that Sony clearly stole it from him. He also thinks it'd be better to use an animal more intelligent than dogs to detect bombs, like dolphins. Additionally, he'll attach disclaimers like "As we're led to believe" to basic, indisputable facts, like the moon's existence or the fact that all humans have bones.
- Laugh Track: The first season used one. It was later ditched after the show's Channel Hop.
- Malaproper: Ali G has an interesting relationship with the English language, often mispronouncing words, making up new ones, and/or spelling them poorly. He refers to technology as "techmology", and thinks "respect" is spelled "respek", among other flagrant butchering of his native tongue. Borat also tends to mispronounce or misuse words due to speaking English as a second language.
- Mathematician's Answer: When arguing with a peaceful activist about the effectiveness of violent protest, the activist asks Ali G in what situation violence can solve anything. Ali's answer? "A violent one".
- Mundane Luxury:
- While discussing "techmology" and whether it's good or whack, one of the guests (Kent Hovind) says he's been to the third world countries and that he's grateful for having flushing toilets.
- When interviewing for a job, Borat is overjoyed to learn that if he works there, his office will have a light.
- Not So Above It All: Baron Cohen is constantly attempting to get his subjects to actually agree with the intentionally outlandish things his characters say, and they often don't disappoint.Borat: [to self-defense expert] What is best move to silence a woman?
Self-Defense Expert: Uh... I don't know that you can silence a woman.
- Overly Long Gag: Sacha's characters can (and more often than not, do) take ages to understand simple concepts that are being explained ad nauseum. He will sometimes also have one of his characters ramble nonsensically for as long as he possibly can before being interrupted, and the most polite of his marks will sit there and listen for what seems like an eternity. The best example is possibly when Borat asks a supermarket manager what fifty different items are, all but one of which are cheese, as the manager bluntly states every single time.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Ali G in a nutshell.
- Ruritania: The Borat sequences portray Kazakhstan as a cartoonishly poor and ignorant backwater, largely based on Eastern European stereotypes. This exploits that fact that most people know absolutely nothing about the Turkic nation of the Eurasian steppe as it really is.
- Those Wacky Nazis: One of the show's most daring sequences involves Bruno covering a British skinhead concert. After asking probing questions about the shirtless participants of a mosh pit, Bruno asks one skinhead, "Are there any skinheads who aren't gay?" In another moment, some skinheads accuse Bruno of having a "bender mustache," to which Bruno enthusiastically agrees, causing the skinheads to react in shocked disgust.
- Unwanted Spouse: Borat cannot stand his wife, alive or dead; after she is killed (off-screen) by a bear, he celebrates joyfully, and he still has nothing but bad things to say about her, even in death.Dating Coach: Did you like some things about your wife?
Borat: ... no.