Sacha Baron Cohen tricked Sarah Palin with an elaborate prank, but he never showed the scene on his Showtime series Who Is America? While segments with Dick Cheney, Bernie Sanders, Roy Moore, and Georgia congressman Jason Spencer all made it to air, Baron Cohen told Deadline the unaired piece with Palin just wasn’t funny enough.
“The upsetting answer is, I don’t think you missed much,” Baron Cohen revealed.
“There was a lot of pressure on me from the channel to put out Palin. And obviously, she did the only publicity for the show because I did zero interviews. There was no other publicity at all for the show. Thanks to her, people knew that the show was coming. But ultimately, I looked at the footage and it just wasn’t funny enough. …I just didn’t want to put out something that…didn’t really make me laugh.”
Baron Cohen explained that his character didn’t have a good dynamic with Palin and that she delivered her answers like a politician.
“For the pieces to be good, there has to be a good comic dynamic. She was just delivering these kind of rote answers as if she was doing a campaign speech. And even though I sat with her I think for about two-and-a-half hours, there was no comedy gold.”
— Variety (@Variety) December 6, 2018
Sarah Palin definitely wasn’t laughing, either. After agreeing to an interview for what she was told was a documentary about American war veterans, Palin realized she was being duped. She later took to Facebook to blast Baron Cohen for the disrespect.
“Yup – we were duped. Ya’ got me, Sacha. Feel better now?” Palin wrote. “I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick ‘humor’ of the British ‘comedian’ Sacha Baron Cohen, enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime.”
“Mock politicians and innocent public personalities all you want, if that lets you sleep at night, but HOW DARE YOU mock those who have fought and served our country. Truly sick.”
Palin said she traveled across the country with her daughter for the interview and was under the impression she was contributing to a “legit Showtime historical documentary” about U.S. war heroes but was instead interviewed by Cohen, who was heavily disguised as a wheelchair-bound veteran.
Once Palin realized something was not right, she removed her mic and walked out of the meeting. She later accused the Cohen/CBS/Showtime production team of purposefully dropping her and her daughter off at the wrong airport after the phony interview, knowing they would miss all flights back home to Alaska.
Still, the former Alaska governor challenged Baron Cohen to air the embarrassing footage, which she predicted would be “heavily edited, not pretty, and intended to humiliate.”
While Sarah Palin’s humorless interview didn’t make the cut for Who Is America?, she was credited as “Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent)” in the closing credits of the show’s season finale. Sacha Baron Cohen later trolled Palin by inviting her to be his date for the Golden Globe Awards, where he is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy.