Sacha Baron Cohen was supposed to present Room‘s nomination for Best Picture as himself, and not as any of his offensive alter egos. But if Cohen was the type to do as he’s told, he wouldn’t be famous, now would he? Rather than accept the restriction placed on him by Oscar producers, he faked having food poisoning and spent 40 minutes turning into Ali G before hitting the stage.
“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,” he told Good Morning Britain. “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?”
As for why the people running the Oscars wouldn’t want Ali G or Borat or Brüno or his latest character Grimsby, it’s probably because they didn’t want any unpredictable visual gags or offensive jokes thrown out by the notoriously foul British comedian. And while he didn’t drop trou or try to snog Olivia Wilde, he did take things to the edge of good taste on one of the best jokes of the evening.
“How come there’s no Oscar for them very hard-working little yellow people with the tiny dicks?” he asked, drawing gasps from the audience before continuing. “You know, the Minions.”
“I was a bit worried how they’d react to the first gag,” he admitted the next day on Good Morning Britain. “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.”
Rock may not be the best person to ask, considering he did an Asian joke later in the night that bombed and is currently doing the outrage rounds on social media. When it comes to jokes like that, they better be funny or people are going to get offended. Or as Rock is learning with all the anger sororities are throwing his way, you can’t say anything without pissing someone off. Unless you’re Ali G, that is.