Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Erran Morad..
(photo credit: GAVIN BOND/SHOWTIME)
Erran Morad is a former Israeli colonel with a big agenda: arming America’s kindergarteners.
Morad is one of four fictional characters introduced on the premiere episode of Who is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen’s buzzed-about new Showtime series.
The show, which was kept under tight wraps until a week ago, hit streaming services on Saturday night and will air on Showtime on Sunday evening.
The first episode introduced four characters played by Cohen, who duped a slew of famous and less-than-famous faces.
But the most time in the 30-minute premiere was devoted to Morad, and his ostensible program “Kinderguardians.”
Cohen, who was born in London to an Israeli mother and British father, perfectly inhabits the tough-guy persona of Morad, who calls himself the “terrorist terminator” and slips occasional Hebrew into his heavily-accented English.
“In America there is a big problem of shootings in schools,” Morad narrates. “The NRA wants to arm the teachers – this is crazy! They should be arming the children.”
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The character finds willing supporters in several outspoken gun advocates, including Philip Van Cleave and Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America.
Both men enthusiastically endorse the idea of providing weapons to toddlers.
He even ropes Van Cleave into making a promotional video trying to convince kids to buy “gunimals” – including the “uzi-corn” and the “dino-gun.”
Morad exhibits a cocky swagger, a scarred eyebrow and a T-shirt reading “anti-terror school.” The Hebrew on his shirt falls into the commonplace trap of being transposed left to right, instead of right to left, but one imagines when Cohen is involved, that was intentional.
However deranged the idea of handing weapons to three year olds may be, one of the most jarring moments comes when Pratt laughs uproariously as Morad states “it’s not rape if it’s your wife!” The fact that these two men appear as buffoons is not enough for Cohen, who manages to convince a slew of current and former elected officials to support the “kinderguardians.”
Those include former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, former congressman Joe Walsh and current GOP lawmakers Dana Rohrabacher of California and Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
“Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment,” Wilson says with a straight face.
Last week, Walsh realized he had been duped into appearing on the show, and told CNN on Saturday that he was “tricked” into reading the words off a teleprompter endorsing guns for toddlers. But at no point in his appearance on the show does Walsh seem to question what he is saying.
Cohen’s other characters spoofed a variety of other figures, including having an Alex Jones-style pundit interview a puzzled Bernie Sanders, and an extremely politically correct liberal professor tell a pair of married Trump supporters that his wife has a sexual relationship with a dolphin.
The British actor and comedian is best known and loved for his films Borat and Bruno, and his incredible ability to transform himself into different characters. In Who is America? Cohen returns closer to the roots he put down in the 2000s with Da Ali G Show, which duped figures from Newt Gingrich to Ralph Nader, Buzz Aldrin and even Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
As news of the show trickled out last week, several officials admitted to being tricked, including Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Dick Cheney and Roy Moore.
Both Moore and Walsh said they were flown out to DC to be lauded at an event for their support of Israel in honor of its 70th anniversary. While Cohen certainly has a few more tricks up his sleeve, it is clear that themes of Israel and the IDF are sure to resurface in the remaining six episodes of the show.
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