It’s undeniable at this point, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America is this summer’s breakout political comedy hit. Highlighting a specific but very vocal subset of the American populace while sprinkling in his Borat/Ali G-esque character work is nothing short of genius, and the series produced some outright groundbreaking work.
While a lot can be said for each and every sketch (and not everyone of them was a winner— looking at you, Truthbrary), I’d like to present the four bits most likely to convert your skeptical, disinterested friends into die-hard fans.
1. Colonel Erran Morad “trains” Georgia state lawmaker Jason Spencer to fight “Radical Islamism”
Not only was this bit hilarious beyond measure, but it actually had real-world ramifications, convincing “Burqa Ban” originator Jason Spencer not to seek re-election. I’m not one to say that art can never influence real world politics, but nothing does the trick quite like public humiliation.
Getting a white man from the South to yell the n word isn’t exactly a challenge. Getting a sitting lawmaker to do so on national television? It’s a cliche at this point to call Cohen a genius, but he, as a private citizen, may have done more for the left than any sitting public servant.
2. Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello proposes reviving a failing rural Arizona economy by pitching a massive mosque
“Your town will become a hub for tourism from Muslims around the world. Can I get a ‘Whoop-Whoop’?!”
I wasn’t so sure about the Nira character following the first episode. He seemed a bit tame compared to some of what we’ve come to expect from Sacha Baron Cohen over the past few decades. His one-liners and quips certainly got a smirk out of me, but as far as the “prank” aspect, he just didn’t seem to be pulling his weight.
That is, until Kingman, Arizona.
Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degecello is the cringe character of the series, and during this segment, between fits of laughter and amazement at the outward racism of the townsfolk, I legitimately felt fearful for his safety. (Fully aware, of course, that Showtime wouldn’t allow anything to happen to the man that brought us Borat.)
3. Gio Monaldo Makes OJ Simpson very uncomfortable for a very long time
I almost missed this one— it’s a post-credits scene after the season finale. That being said, holy shit am I glad I didn’t. This might be, hands-down, my favorite bit on the show. It’s so stupid and it’s so simple. Without spoiling it for those who haven’t watched, Sacha Baron Cohen is fearless, and OJ Simpson is as good a sport about his ex-wife’s murder as you can possibly imagine.
4. Colonel Erran Morad stages a quinceañera in order to “trap illegal Mexicans”
Another Morad sketch, I know. But I mean… look at the guy. He’s like the most frightening Grand Theft Auto character come to life— major shout-out to this show’s masterful hair and makeup department.
This sketch starts with three clueless Trump voters who truly believe that the purpose of a quinceañera, a cultural coming-of-age ceremony for a 15 year old entering womanhood, is (in their minds) one big den of sexual assault. To combat this complete fabrication, they decide to throw their own quinceañera, advertising “FREE DRUGS” and “YOUNG GIRLS.” A hysterical series of training exercises ultimately culminates in an actual “mission” that involves the police responding to what is described as “all a big misunderstanding.”
I’ve been on the internet long enough to know you all disagree with me, and as such have to hate me—vocally. Let me know what your favorite Who is America bits are. Was I right? Mostly right? Deadass wrong?
Feel free to bother me on Twitter or Instagram @yusefroach. Or check out our comedy podcast Death is Imminent if you’re in the mood for some morbid fun that usually involves the movie Kangaroo Jack.