Oscars 2016: Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G appearance was total surprise to Academy

The comedian had been specifically asked by Oscar ceremony organisers to present on the night as himself

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The Independent Culture

The Academy Awards are an extremely tightly-run ship; with months of planning and endless rehearsals, yet never too far from the potential for total chaos. 

And the usual culprit for that chaos is Sacha Baron Cohen. Indeed, you'd think organisers would have learnt their lesson from his 2012 appearance; when his character from The Dictator turned up and poured an entire urn full of (what he claimed were) Kim Jong-il's ashes over Ryan Seacrest

Yet, though they implored the comedian to present as himself at this year's Academy Awards, that idea was somehow expected to stick. As if: unbeknownst to them, Baron Cohen strutted out on stage as Ali G to announce himself as, "just another token black presenter". 

"The truth is we actually had to sneak it in, because the Oscars sat me down before and said they didn't want me to do anything out of order, they wanted me to actually just present it as myself," he later revealed, while appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show (via The Hollywood Reporter). "But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets, and I managed to get away with it."

His wife, fellow actor Isla Fisher, stated the pair were forced to lock themselves in the bathroom for 40 minutes to apply the full Ali G look; with Fisher having to pretend her husband had come down with food poisoning.

"I mean, there were a few moments I was a bit worried how they'd react to the first gag," Baron Cohen furthered. "But I bumped into Chris Rock actually on the way on and pitched him the gag, and he gave me the thumbs up, so I went for it."

Still, Cohen's bit as Ali G didn't go crazily off-road, coming off to the vast majority of viewers as just an additional play into the focus of the night's humour on the #OscarsSoWhite debate. 

Plus, he at least didn't exploit the opportunity to promote his new Grimsby character.