One of the political players most hyped to appear in the Sacha Baron Cohen miniseries Who Is America? only barely made the cut once the show finally aired on Showtime. But the show’s creator said that’s because she just wasn’t funny enough to be included.
Palin was furious when it was made public that she was duped into an interview by Cohen, which only gave more publicity to the show. But Showtime was coy about whether Palin appeared in the series or not, mostly because she barely made the cut when it was all said and done and finally aired. There was talk we would never see the interview at all, but later Palin appeared in the credits of the show as a “Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent).”
Cohen had previously said we weren’t missing much by not seeing Palin on the show at all, and now we know why. The filmmaker was asked in a Deadline interview about a variety of things in a debriefing about Who Is America? and came clean: she just wasn’t funny enough.
When the topic of Palin came up Cohen said that, despite talking to her for upwards of two hours, there was no “comedy gold” to be found with Palin when it was all said and done.
The upsetting answer is, I don’t think you missed much. There was a lot of pressure on me from the channel to put out Palin. And obviously, she did the only publicity for the show because I did zero interviews. There was no other publicity at all for the show. Thanks to her, people knew that the show was coming. But ultimately, I looked at the footage and it just wasn’t funny enough. For the pieces to be good ,there has to be a good comic dynamic. She was just delivering these kind of rote answers, as if she was doing a campaign speech. And even though I sat with her I think for about two-and-a-half hours, there was no comedy gold.
There’s something to be said for that in 2018, as absurdist comedy has taken a interesting pivot considering the general atmosphere of, well, the rest of the world. Something that is sad or depressing or just plain crazy may not, unfortunately, also be found funny. Palin’s interview apparently somehow managed to fall into the uncanny valley between funny and bizarre, which left most of her footage on the cutting room floor.