Two spoofers collide: Baron Cohen posts teaser video slagging Trump slagging him

Video ‘trailer’ sees POTUS telling the comedian: ‘Go to school! Learn about being funny’

It takes a troll to know one. It is a perfect marriage of personas for the era of whinging that anything you don’t like is fake news. It is also the perfect tease for a leader of the free world with a self-awareness deficit aligned with a narcissism complex, who seems to think that if he says something is true it must be so.

Sacha Baron Cohen, actor, comedian, screenwriter and spoofer (Borat, Bruno, Da Ali G Show) posted a mysterious video this week - in his first tweet - suggesting he's working on a project targeting that other great spoofer, US president Donald J Trump, and his affiliated Trump University.

In what appears to be a teaser announcement, Baron Cohen “re-tweeted” a “message from your President @realDonaldTrump” and posted a short (37 second) video containing archive footage of Trump at his desk, with a fourth of July “message” about this “third-rate character named Sacha Baron Cohen”.

“He’s back,” the titles promise, “as you’ve never seen him before”.


As a large image of Baron Cohen moves across the screen in front of POTUS, the Orange One intones, “I only wish he would’ve been punched in the face so many times right now he’d be in the hospital”.

He continues with archive footage of the billionaire getting his knickers in a twist about an entertainer who once spoofed him: “It was disgraceful, he ought to be fired immediately”, and exhorting “Sacha Baron Cohen, go to school! Learn about being funny.”

Well, the video implies Baron Cohen may be doing just that, in a fashion, as the clip ends with the teasing titles “Sacha graduates . . . soon” and the logo of now defunct Trump University closes the video.

The video has had several hundred thousand views, and was picked up by some media outlets, but without any managing to get a clarification of what delights Baron Cohen is promising.

At the moment, he is shooting a Netflix series The Spy, written and directed by Gideon Raff, and since his post there has been media speculation that a new Baron Cohen project may include other targets, as he is also reported to have filmed a stunt in a Las Vegas hotel room in February with OJ Simpson.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Donald Trump have been squabbling since the now president of the US appeared on Da Ali G Show in 2003, where Baron Cohen's character Ali G asks Trump for input on a business idea (ice cream gloves; he didn't invest). The eminently mockable Trump, who hates being made to look an eejit, says he walked out of the interview seconds after it started, but Baron Cohen years later said on James Corden's TV show that Trump talked for a relatively long seven minutes on camera.

In 2012, promoting his film The Dictator, Baron Cohen crashed the Oscars and dumped "ashes" on to E! host Ryan Seacrest. Peculiarly, Trump responded by posting a video calling Cohen a third-rate character, and saying he wished he'd been punched in the face, and should "learn how to be funny".

Trump added on Twitter: “I never fall for scams. I am the only person who immediately walked out of my ‘Ali G’ interview.”

Then, in 2016, in the satirical comedy Grimsby (which Baron Cohen starred in and co-wrote) Trump is, um, infected with HIV after Daniel Radcliffe’s blood is sprayed into his mouth after a gunshot. It was released during the presidential campaign with a disclaimer the candidate did not actually have HIV. Cohen arrived at the premiere wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and with people waving ‘Vote Trump’ signs.

Trump's declaration he never falls for scams was a source of mirth this week when he spoke in a prank phone call to comedian Stuttering John while on Air Force One. The prank phone call was played on his podcast.

John Melendez, aka Stuttering John, a regular on The Howard Stern Show, blamed Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior White House advisor, for allowing the hoax call. He told the Hollywood Reporter he was amazed the prank got as far as it did, given that it was a totally off-the-cuff idea with his producer to fill podcast airtime.

The now-defunct Trump University, which never licensed as a university, was launched in 2005 to teach real-estate management and wealth creation.

It operated until 2010 and was the subject of a New York state inquiry over illegal business practices. Two class action lawsuits were also filed against Trump about its training and he settled them for $25 million after being elected.

But does the man who has proved an expert at holding a grudge, really have it in for Baron Cohen?

One of the niftiest comments on Baron Cohen’s tweet on July 4th jokes: “If he dislikes you that much, how come he named his son after you?”

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times