“May George Bush Drink the Blood of Every Man, Woman, and Child in Iraq!”

Many of the best Cohen moments find him infuriating people. Others find him risking his personal safety to ensure a laugh. The best scene in Borat, and possibly the finest moment in his career so far, finds him infuriating a gigantic crowd of people who truly seem to want him dead. Of course, that only happens after Cohen does what he does best and exposes the inherent prejudices of your typical American. Hell, your typical human being. Invited to sing the National Anthem at a rodeo, the well-meaning but impossibly racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic Borat first whips the crowd into a frenzy as he encourages the total destruction of Iraq. And then he mangles the National Anthem and the crowd turns on him in an instant. It’s a remarkable comedy bit and like so much of Cohen’s finest work, it’s just as terrifying as it is funny.

“I Will Not Shake Your Hand, But I Will Give You This”

It’s no wonder that director Adam McKay and Cohen have collaborated a few times since Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Both of them love their raunchy, immature jokes, but both of them also love tearing America open, seeing what makes the nation tick, and exposing our faults for satire and laughs. In this NASCAR racing comedy, McKay found the perfect outlet to poke certain aspects of American culture where it hurts and Cohen found an amazing comedic villain in Jean Girard, a Frenchman who beats American racers at their own game and makes it easy. While it may not seem like a big deal now, watching him congratulate Will Ferrell‘s Ricky Bobby after winning a race with a long, passionate kiss was simply not something you saw in a mainstream comedy back in 2006. McKay, Ferrell, and Cohen deserve serious props for helping to break down that particular barrier – we take it for granted now.

“Master of the House”

2012’s Les Misérables is a bit of a disaster, a chintzy-looking, awkwardly directed take on one of the greatest stage musicals ever conceived. However, the faults (mostly) don’t lie with the cast and Cohen’s Thénardier is a highlight in a film with few. Like with the stage version, he arrives when things are at their bleakest to inject some much-needed comedy into the proceedings and Cohen nails the character’s low comedy and slightly sinister whimsy.

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