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No fun in Islam

Brüno, which I saw a couple of weeks ago, turned out to be disappointing. It had some side-splittinlgy funny moments - and I still maintain that Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic genius - but there weren't enough of them. It wasn't a patch on Borat. Funny is the only thing a comdedian has to be. He can be offensive; he can ridicule good people; he can even be phony, but he has to be funny.

There are all kinds of reasons why Brüno was not as good as Borat. The main one is that Baron Cohen is first and foremost a clown, and clowns cannot be too knowing. Borat blundered and bumbled, and got away with making fools of hapless members of the public by being even more hapless. Brüno appeared calculating, rather than endearingly silly. Another drawback was that the film focused too much on America; he's been there and done that, and people know him. He should have stayed in Austria, a country whose überdullards, psychopaths and Mozartkugel are ripe for ruthless mockery. Finally, a strength of Borat, but a weakness of Brüno was the sidekick. Azamat Bagatov, the paunchy "producer" with whom Borat wrestles naked, was an inspired creation. Brüno's companion was limp - as would be a pun if I intended it.

Nevertheless, the film had its moments, one of which was the interview with Aymman Abu Aita, a terrorist from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. True to form, the "militant Palestinian group" is not amused. I suspect that "militant Palestinian groups" don't have much of a laugh. From The Times:

Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after being threatened by a militant Palestinian group angered at its portrayal in the film Brüno.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, said in a statement released to a Jerusalem-based journalist that it was “very upset” that it featured in the film starring Baron Cohen’s homosexual fashionista alter ego.

“We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man,” it said. “The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”

The London-born comic is taking the threat seriously and has improved security for himself and his family in preparation for violent reprisals.  

Baron-Cohen's humour is not to everyone's taste. No doubt some, particularly those who don't get the joke, find him irritating or think he deserves a good spanking. He is an equal opportunities offender, but somehow I doubt the security measures will be needed to protect him against the angry Hassidic Jews, whom he also ridiculed, or against passing Kazaks, or the rodeo lovers of Tucson, Arizona.