Erran Morad’s best moments in ‘Who is America?’

Sacha Baron Cohen's Israeli character brought laughs and cringes to audiences in 'Who is America?'

SACHA BARON COHEN'S 'Erran Morad' and former vice president Dick Cheney (August 27, 2018).  (photo credit: SHOWTIME)
SACHA BARON COHEN'S 'Erran Morad' and former vice president Dick Cheney (August 27, 2018).
(photo credit: SHOWTIME)
On Sunday evening, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America? wrapped up its first – and likely only – season on air.
And while the comedian brought a whole host of bizarre, disturbing and confusing characters to the air, few made as much of a buzz as “Erran Morad,” the sometimes ex-Mossad, sometimes former IDF colonel, who became a mainstay of the show.
Morad – a tough-talking, swaggering Israeli with a heavy accent and a scar through his left eyebrow – sat down with a wide range of people during the first season of the show. Despite saying and doing things that no Mossad agent – or IDF colonel – would ever do or say, Morad duped his targets with little more than a macho persona, fake credentials and a whole lot of attitude.
Arguably the best application of Morad was in an interview with disgraced GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. On the third episode of the show, the character lured Moore – who lost his race last year after nine women accused him of sexual misconduct, several while they were minors – to an interview by promising him an award for his support of Israel.
Once there, however, Morad showed off some top-notch Israeli technology: a tunnel detection wand that has been re-purposed to sniff out pedophiles. Of course, the segment ended with Moore storming off set away from the beeping wand, grumbling: “I support Israel, I don’t support this kind of stuff.”
The over-the-top character even fooled former vice president Dick Cheney, who sat down for an interview with Morad that aired in the show’s second episode. The vice president didn’t blink when Morad asked him, “How does it feel to be the king of terrorist killers?” or to name the favorite war he started. Cheney simply chuckled when Morad said he once water-boarded his wife, and he happily signs a “waterboarding kit” he is told already has the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.
Of course, the biggest consequences for one of Morad’s targets almost certainly came to former state representative Jason Spencer. The Georgia lawmaker took “self-defense training” from Morad, which included baring his ass, shouting the N-word, mocking Chinese tourists and threatening to cut off the penis of a burka-clad “terrorist.”
Despite initially resisting, Spencer resigned his seat in the George House of Representatives as a result of the show.
And there was little more jarring than Morad’s first appearance in the show, when he hawked the “Kinderguardians” program. In a clip viewed close to 16 million times on You- Tube, the character effortlessly convinces several gun activists and current and former elected officials to endorse arming preschoolers.
“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.”
After watching these incidents, most of Morad’s other appearances in the show felt like more of the same – even the exceptionally cringe-worthy trio of Trump supporters attempting to lure and trap Mexicans with a faux Quinceañera celebration.
None of them blinked an eye at donning underwear with a faux vagina “based on Gal Gadot” or when Morad – dressed as a mariachi performer – broke out into Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. In the Israeli’s other appearances on the show, he attempted to teach a man to escape a beheading, help a Real Housewife secure her home and teach another group to pose as liberals to infiltrate Antifa.
Much has been made of the Erran Morad character and Cohen’s incredible success in duping purportedly intelligent people into saying and doing ridiculous things. Cohen, a British Jew born to an Israeli mother, preyed on the fetishization of many Americans of Israeli machismo – real or fake.
But even the shock value and satire for which Cohen is so well known wore thin after the first few episodes of the show. The comedian didn’t come close to answering the question “Who is America?” But he certainly proved that a great deal of Americans, both public officials and private individuals, make for scarily easy targets.