27. 'Da Ali G Show'
He was conceived as a caricature of a blunt-smoking, patois-speaking British b-boy with a bad grasp of things like history, names and facts. But Sacha Baron Cohen's comic creation Ali G soon became something completely different: a gonzo journalist that managed to confuse, bewilder and piss off politicians, world leaders, business magnates, authors and activists. Originally parlaying this conceit into a show on Britain's Channel Four, Cohen eventually took Ali and his other characters — a socially backward foreigner named Borat and a flamboyantly gay fashion correspondant named Bruno — over to HBO, where he would ambush John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and Noam Chomsky with his guerilla tactics. The sense that he might get a subject or the people he'd encounter on the street to say something awful gave each encounter a certain car-wreck fascination — the sequence where Borat gets an entire bar to sing "Throw the Jew Down the Well" is both hilarious and horrifying — and though his alter egos would eventually become too recognizable to pull the hoax off, that brief two-season run over here managed to score some truly brilliant coups.—DAVID FEAR