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Column: We’re not amused

Posted: July 16, 2018 2:56 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Actually, we are. At least I am.

In fact, I’m laughing various limbs and appendages right off my body -- and I haven’t even seen the show yet. God knows what will happen when I actually watch it.

Basically, Sascha Baron Cohen, the twisted comedic genius that brought us such offerings as Borat and the Ali G Show, is at it again, this time with a darkly satiric look at the country called Who Is America?

Cohen’s usual modus operandi is to immerse himself into some outrageously farcical character  -- Borat, the naively simple, bumbling foreigner with the heavy accent being a great example -- and interacting with unwitting strangers. The underlying premise is basically to see what people will say and/or do when they think they’re in safe company. For example, in Borat, one of the more skewering -- and very funny moments – occurred in a sequence about his visiting a very frufru bed and breakfast in Atlanta. He commits faux pas after faux pas, culminating with his date coming to dinner -- the date being a very obvious boulevard prostitute.

In regard to Who Is America?, I’m not sure what I’ll find funnier, some of the premises behind the show segments or the reactions of some of the people who have learned they have been punked. In fact, several people have learned just that within the last week or so. Some of the more notably outraged include former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Judge Roy Moore of Alabama. Both reacted in starkly predictable ways, which further accentuates those very features of personality which most people find ridiculous about them in the first place.

Now here’s what is either funny or frightening, depending on how you wish to view the current state of lunacy in this country. The characters Cohen plays are so wildly over the top that most normal people should have little trouble discerning a heaping helping of satire and farce. For example, Cohen’s character of Col. Morad, the Israeli anti-terror commando who is pitching a program called “Kinderguardian,” a pre-K initative that involves arming every toddler in the country with firearms to help protect their preschools, is at once absolutely so unbelievable that anyone who grew up on the original Not-Quite-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players (remember Bill Murray yelling, “Okay, bring in the stunt baby!”) should be rolling on the floor with a pronounced stitch in the side within five minutes.

But the collective psychosis in this country is such that a larger portion of the population than I care to admit exists is out of the shadows and would actually embrace it.

How can I make such a blanket statement? Because Cohen actually seems to be able to convince enough real time politicians -- including one of our own locally grown congressional mental giants, to, if not endorse it, at least give it a listen -- and even the dimmest elected fourth generation sinecure isn’t dumb enough to do that unless he or she believes it’s got a shot with the hordes of drooling mouth breathers -- uh, I mean registered voters -- back home.

That’s really funny -- but it’s also really scary.

On the other hand, satire and farce go to many levels, and it may very well be that everyone involved is in on the joke, which brings about a whole new vortex of conspiracy theory jokes.

Who Is America, indeed?


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