Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, while out promoting his new film, "The Dictator," made an appearance on "Today" with Matt Lauer. Dressed and made up as his character from the film, Cohen then proceeded to tell Lauer that he knew there was an on-going affair between the long-running morning show host and his colleague Ann Curry. Lauer is married and has three children with his wife Annette Roque.
Pretending to not know that they were already on the air, Cohen said to Matt, "Ann Curry… I know you are having an affair with her. Ask me good questions so I will not bring it up when we are live on air." To his credit, Lauer seemed to get that this is the kind of thing you sign on for when agreeing to interview Cohen in character and he laughed it off.
Cohen also appeared on "The Daily Show" with host Jon Stewart in character this week. The looser restraints on material allowed him to work a little more "blue," and Stewart too was able to laugh through most of the absurdity and the double-entendre. In both the Lauer and the Stewart interview, it's clear that the hosts were truly entertained by the craziness of Sacha's antics.
One thing can always be said for Sacha's performances both in his films and when he's out promoting them in character: he commits. Though there were moments during the "Daily Show" appearance where it appeared that Cohen may actually break character because both he and Stewart shared a moment of recognition of just how bizarre a turn the interview had taken, you never see him fall out of character or break up laughing hysterically. The in-character interviews draw an interesting parallel to another uniquely talented and envelope-pushing comedian, Andy Kaufman.
Known to many as Latka Gravas on the long-running sitcom "Taxi," Kaufman too was extremely adept at taking a fictional character and playing them so well you couldn't find where the character started and Andy stopped. Kaufman, for instance, created the character known as Tony Clifton, a large man with dark black hair, dark sunglasses, a big mustache and a penchant for annoying and angering every audience he performed in front of.
Whether it's Cohen as Borat or Bruno, or Kaufman as Tony Clifton, there's a level of danger and excitement associated with all of them. They both put audiences on the edge of their seats, uncertain of what direction the performance will take them next. Sadly, Kaufman passed away in 1984 at just 34 years old, but we think he'd probably find a kindred spirit in Sacha, and we're sure Cohen will keep doing what he does best for many years to come.
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