Sacha Baron Cohen was raised in a traditional Jewish family. He is still clearly very devoted to Judaism, even waiting to marry his wife until she converted.
But when Cohen talks about his religion, he seems to play it down to not so much of a big deal, saying:
I wouldn't say I am a religious Jew. I am proud of my Jewish identity and there are certain things I do and customs I keep.
Cohen credits being Jewish to his going into show business. And it's funny, there seems to really be a disproportionate amount of entertainers who are Jews. Speaking of getting into break dancing with his Jewish friends as a kid, Cohen says:
Essentially we were middle-class Jewish boys who were adopting this culture, which we thought was very cool. That was sort of the origins of Ali G.
The politics of comedy
Politics is where Cohen is confusing. To him, politics is perhaps the best inspiration for his comedy whether it's representing a third-world dictator or a gender-bending gay journalist or a cultural attache to the U.S. from Kazakhstan.
Cohen has even managed to convince two of the U.S.'s most influential Republican politicians to submit to interviews with his characters.
In one, as his Austrian gay character, Bruno, Cohen cornered Ron Paul in a hotel room and began to undress, asking Ron Paul if he thought it was sexy. Paul did not.
In a radio interview, Ron Paul said of the incident:
I was expecting an interview on Austrian economics. That didn't turn out that way. By the time he [Cohen] started pulling his pants down, I was like what on earth is going on here and I ran out of the room. This interview had ended.
At one point, Cohen as Ali G interviewed Newt Gingrich, asking him if people who had been on welfare for a long time should get a raise and reflecting on what it would be like to have a woman president, asking Gingrich:
Ain't there the problem that if [someone] declares war, she'll just start crying and everything?
Perhaps we can hope for a kernel of truth in Cohen's characters, especially when he (as Ali G) says something as beautiful and profound as:
So, if this show teach you anything, it should teach you how to respek everyone: animals, children, bitches, spazmos, mingers, lezzers, fatty boombahs, and even gaylords. So, to all you lot watching this, but mainly to the normal people, respek. West side.