In just a few weeks, prankster genius Sacha Baron Cohen's new show, Who Is America?, has already caught quite a few bodies—most notably that Georgia Congressman he "duped" into literally showing his ass and shouting the n-word on camera.
Most of the comedian's targets so far have been clueless conservatives. But at least one of Cohen's new characters seems designed to needle progressives—and naturally, he's got a Portland pedigree.
A self-described "self-hating white male," Cohen's Dr. Nira Cain-N'Degeocello is depicted as a professor of gender and women's studies at Reed College.
The character made his debut on the July 23 episode—in a sketch apparently written by fellow high-concept guerrilla sketch artist Nathan For You's Nathan Fielder—and made another appearance in the episode that aired last night.
In the sketch, Cain-N'Degeocello moderates a discussion between Rep. Chip Limestone, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, and the rapper Bone Crusher. According to The AV Club's recap, Cohen, as the professor, "fetishizes Bone Crusher's racial identity criticizing Limehouse for touching the rapper's shoulder ("Are you okay?" he asks Bone Crusher) before shaming him for not having seen the Oscar-winning Moonlight (hilariously, Bone Crusher reveals he's also not seen the movie)."
"The joke, of course, is that Cain-N'Degeocello believes he understands the 'afrodiasporic community' more than those within that community," writes The AV Club, "even as he claims that he's there to understand why they 'didn't vote for Hillary.'"
Later, Cain-N'Degeocello participates in a rap battle, lecturing on women's rights while claiming to be "ashamed" of his "macro-phallus." You can watch that part below:
As with almost everything Cohen does, the ruse is far more elaborate than just what appears onscreen: Not only does the professor have a Twitter account, he also has several books listed on Amazon, with titles such as Immoral Toddlers and Being Food: Living Life in the Food Chain. All of them are, sadly, out-of-print.
Apparently, it's not the last we'll see of the character: Before Who Is America? premiered in early July, Austin Rhodes, a conservative radio talk show host from Georgia, confessed to being "duped" into interviewing Cain-N'Degeocello on-air for 90 minutes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rhodes knew something was askew when he first met the alleged professor.
"When I first met this very tall, oddly dressed man, I said live on air: 'Well, my goodness. You look like you are coming in straight from central casting. If I didn't know better I would say you could be Fred Armisen in disguise," Rhodes said. "Well, he wasn't Armisen, but I wasn't too far off."