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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Ali G
Ali G takes on America
Newsnight Review discussed Ali G's first American seires - Ali G in da USAiii.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

MARK LAWSON: Tom, there was a general feeling that people had got the joke whether or not they found it funny. That was a matter for them and he went somewhere else. Has he found a new source of humour there?

TOM PAULIN: No. I'm afraid not. He's boxed himself into a corner. These shows are absolutely dreadful. They are nothing and Atkinson used the same phrase. He knows nothing.

MARK LAWSON: That's the joke.

TOM PAULIN: I know, but what he does is to play various comic Europeans. There is no humour in it. There are a lot of museum pieces and ancient people who used to run the CIA and that kind of thing. It's not funny at all. He's lost it. He's had one idea in the first series, the great remark to the two unionists he interviewed when they said they were British in Ireland and he said so you are tourists, but he has lost it completely and he will never get another idea at all.

MARK LAWSON: James, I laughed a lot at this and partly at the quite incredible tolerance of the Americans. When Buzz Aldrin starts explaining the joke.

JAMES PATTERSON: I was on tour and someone in the audience started asking these absurd questions and I sat here and I thought it would be cruel or rude because you don't know if the person is on the wrong drug level. We don't know how to react.

MARK LAWSON: He does score some hits. In his other character at the Austrian model when he interviews a leading fashion designer and asks him contradictory questions and gets replies.

JAMES PATTERSON: That is funny, but people can be so ridiculous it's hard to tell what is a put-on.

JEANETTE WINTERSON: I think I'm turning into Tom because I feel I'm looking into the void when I listen to Ali G. I hate this stuff. I don't even understand it. I don't know what the difference is between him and the black and white minstrels. I don't get it.

TOM PAULIN: I'm amazed he's been given another series. I can't understand that. I can't understand why he has flicked into black and white TV.

MARK LAWSON: I will try to defend it. I thought there were flashes in it that he is the new Barry Humphries. I think he's a sophisticated comic actor. He has been accused of racism and there are moving scenes here. The scene in which Ali G sings the Kazakhstan national anthem and people didn't know how to behave. It is stupid people who get into trouble.

JEANETTE WINTERSON: It's very low-level stuff. I think it is the dumbing down of our culture. Is that all we can laugh at?

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22 Feb 03 | Reviews
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