General Aladeen of the People’s Republic of Wadiya loves New York. On Saturday night, the despot stopped by SNL‘s Weekend Update to banter with Seth Meyers. This morning, he cheerfully threatened Matt Lauer’s family on the Today show. And just a few hours ago, the Supreme Leader, Chief Ophthalmologist, and excellent swimmer — he can even do the breaststroke! — stopped by Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria for a press conference with reporters from around the world.
Aladeen, of course, is the latest alter ego of Sacha Baron Cohen, a comedian who promotes his movies with in-character stunt appearances. And though Baron Cohen’s performance at today’s press event didn’t break new ground — the jokes were familiar for anyone who’s watched footage from The Dictator or read about Aladeen’s appearance at CinemaCon — his enthusiasm for playing his new character shined through.
Baron Cohen arrived in the hotel’s Empire Room fashionably late, preceded by a crowd of “subjects” hoisting fawning signs (sample text: “Say No to Democracy”) and flanked by a quartet of hot, stony-faced women wearing itty-bitty military uniforms and berets. After ribbing a guy who had shouted “sit down!” at another reporter — “You want me to sit down? Who is the f–ing dictator?” — the actor launched into his well-oiled routine: “Welcome, devils of the Zionist media, and death to the West! Today, I wish to highlight the plight of a terribly endangered group, the innocent victims of a global human tragedy: dictators.”
Baron Cohen’s general went on to decry the treatment of his authoritarian comrades, noting that their only crimes are embezzling money, oppressing their people, and “doing a tiny little bit of genocide.” Then Baron Cohen mourned a few of the dictators who have fallen in recent years: “Saddam, Kim Jong-il, Gadaffi, and Oprah.” READ FULL STORY