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“ALI G” WEBVIDEO:The Interviewer & His Questions Speaks Volumes About the Opportunity

Posted on November 25, 2006
Filed Under Interviews, WebVideo | Comments Off on “ALI G” WEBVIDEO:The Interviewer & His Questions Speaks Volumes About the Opportunity

Ali G interviews Boutros Boutros Gali, former UN Secretary General. Apparently he is unaware of the platform and yet answers every ridiculous question with complete seriousness. Any applicant who can address questions with this degree of patience and clarity has a shot at being hired … anyone interviewing a candidate without knowing the fundamentals of his business, the subject matter, acceptable etiquette, or the legal ramifications and HR implications of his questions — would be a far less funny topic from the perspective of the hiring manager and the employer seeking world class talent. That being said … enjoy a brilliant set of “interview” samplings – to what depths a “bad interview” can actually go.

Shawn Macomber featured an in-depth review in National Review of what makes the “Da Ali G” interview format work precisely by how it fails the norm:

For the uninitiated, Da Ali G Show is a spoof reality show in which British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen travels America in one of three guises — Ali G, a “hip-hop journalist” clad in a yellow tracksuit with a penchant for nearly unintelligible street slang; Borat, Kazakhstan’s ace reporter; and Bruno, a not-so-ambiguously gay Austrian broadcast journalist — slaying sacred cows wherever he goes.

Baron Cohen is obviously a gifted man. Who else could get Pat Buchanan to perform an ebonics-laden rap? Who else could ask former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali if French is the funniest language, and have him answer, “Arabic might be funnier.” (Providing some competition for Buchanan, Boutros-Ghali raps as well.) Name one other man who has been given an official tour of the United Nations and used it as an opportunity to ask a U.N. official, “With full respect, why do you give crap countries a vote?” Later he gets a straight answer to a query as to why Disneyland hasn’t been granted a seat. (For the curious, it’s apparently because Disneyland “is not an independent state.”)

Ali G is also able to get Brent Scowcroft to discuss the pros and cons of nuking Canada, with the fake rapper arguing that the “most amazing part” of nuking Canada would be “the element of surprise.” Scowcroft ultimately dismisses the idea, because “we don’t want what they’ve got up there.” He asks astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “So what was it like to walk on the sun?” Newt Gingrich, James Lipton, Michael Dukakis, C. Everett Koop, and Ed Meese all inexplicably and dutifully sit through quite insane interviews. And in one of the highlights of last season, Ali G argues with Ralph Nader over whether the rainforests deserve protection. “Surely [the rainforest natives] would be well happy to get out of there,” Ali G rants. “It must be crap living there. No McDonalds. No KFC. Nowhere to drive around. All these monkeys plopping on your head. Who would stay there? You’d have to be absolutely mental.”

Baron Cohen is so good, Nader doesn’t walk out. He doesn’t bat an eye. He just continues the interview in earnest. “First of all,” Nader replies, “the monkeys are not eager to plop on people’s heads.” And when it’s all over, Ali G talks the notoriously surly Nader into performing a rap as well.

This is the genius of Da Ali G Show. It’s actually fairly politically savvy stuff, and the skewering of political institutions and power brokers cuts all the deeper when Ali G’s subjects (victims) suck up to him and act like even the most absurd question is the most important thing they’ve ever been asked.

“For that time they’re in the room with me, sometimes they totally forget who they are,” Baron Cohen said in a recent New York Times interview. “And they come out with a totally different side of themselves…They want Ali G’s approval. They’re in the room with a total idiot, and yet they’re seeking his approval.”

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