Let’s get this out of the way, Ali G Rezurection is not a new, original program. The series, which will air every Wednesday on FXX, is a repackaged version of the original Ali G Show that are spruced up with new interstitials featuring creator/star Sacha Baron Cohen tacked on the beginning and end of each episode.
So why even bother? Seriously, why should you, the television viewer, who has hundreds of television channels to watch plus all sorts of streaming and on demand media sit through a repackaged version of a series that aired 14 years ago starring a guy who people seem to truly dislike on a network no one can seem to find?
Simply put — because it’s funny.
It’s true, you’re not getting anything really new out of this show. It’s true that Sacha Baron Cohen does not have the cache and gravitas he had when Borat first hit the big screen, but when you breeze through the 30 minute episodes of Ali G Rezurection you’ll find yourself laughing and you’ll remember why you bought into Sacha Baron Cohen all those years ago. The Ali G Show/Rezurection is actually a terrifically smart, cutting satire. It’s rife with absurd situations and characters that subtly and not-so subtly subvert the world. Baron’s fearless approach to comedy is admirable — he’s able to get people of the highest standing to say the dumbest things and go along with his wild and outlandish ways. For example, getting an elderly government official to make reference to “drinking from the furry cup” while utterly crude and sophomoric is also pretty genius.
If you take issues with Cohen’s films, this show might assuage some of the bile that you spew at him. One complaint many have is that his jokes and characters don’t play well over the run time of a movie. However, condense these character’s onscreen time to a few minutes and they strike comic gold every time.
This is evidenced perfectly with Borat. His scene in the television show is quickly and tightly edited, leaving no room for any dead air or repeated jokes. It’s all his best material presented in a short, impactful way. Watch his scene from the “series premiere” and you’ll remember that this character is in fact hysterical and the writing is in fact brilliant.
One great throwback moments in tonight’s episode was a re-showing of Cohen’s live Ali G Show during a Comic Relief event. It featured a very young, very giggly Victoria and David Beckham. Outside of the novelty of seeing how young two of the most attractive humans in the world look, this scene also illustrates that Cohen will say and do absolutely anything for a laugh. He does not hold back at all and is emboldened with every laugh from the audience (and his guests) to further push the envelope. It’s very interesting to watch unfold.
In the end, Ali G Rezurection is a fun little show that is literally over before you know it. If you’re jaded towards the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen, give this show a shot and maybe you’ll rediscover why you enjoyed him in the first place.