With “Brüno” now officially released in the wilds, cultural satirist Sacha Baron Cohen has exhausted his stock of pre-existing alter-egos. Before the gay Austrian fashionista, there was Khazakhstani journalist Borat and hip hop culture “expert” Ali G, both of whom have already enjoyed silver screen outings of their own.
The three personas together formed the core of Cohen’s HBO series “Da Ali G Show.” While they’ve continued to provide him with a wealth of material to draw from in the subsequent movie spin-offs, the release of “Brüno” also means that Cohen is going to have to start exploring new directions in his work. Unless he somehow figures out a way to deliver a sequel, that is.
Based on the video above, fans are most keyed into the idea of Cohen continuing to run with his basic shtick of irony-laced interviews. Some want to see a continuation of what’s come before, some want a new character and some just want to see Cohen as Cohen, but people have clearly latched on to his skills as an interviewer. If he does continue on the same or a similar course for his next project, I’ll be interested to see how interview subjects react now that he’s become a fixture of the same culture he satires.
Of course, Cohen’s chief strength is his unpredictability. Whatever his credentials are as a journalist, Cohen’s ability to keep people off-balance stems from his talent for immersing himself in the particular part he’s created. Building on this, MTV’s Eric Ditzian has suggested a number of possible outlets for Cohen’s next creative effort.
I think I’d most like to see him take on more serious acting. As Eric notes, Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey — two comic actors who possess the chameleon-like ability to transform themselves for their roles — have successfully channeled those talents into more dramatic pursuits. We’ve only seen the barest glimpse of Cohen’s own chops, but I suspect he’s a stronger actor than anyone — fans and detractors alike — gives him credit for.
What’s your take on Cohen? Did you like “Brüno”? His previous work? Where would you like to see Cohen go next?