The Wild World of Borat

updated 11/13/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/2006 01:00AM

WHO IS BORAT?

He's bigoted. He's sexist. He has ticked off Virginia rodeo-goers, southern belles and an entire ex-Soviet republic. But is he funny? Audiences will decide when Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (yes, that's the full title) hits theaters this week. Behind on the buzz? Borat, a Kazakh journalist prone to making outrageous comments in fractured English, is a character played by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who gives interviews only as Borat.

In the largely unscripted movie—which has won critical raves but also drawn fire for the character's flagrant anti-Semitism—Borat travels across America interacting with unsuspecting participants from politicians to Pamela Anderson. "Because he's courageous and unexpected, you don't know what part of it is real," says comic Stephen Colbert. "That's what's really amazing."

WHO IS SACHA BARON COHEN?

Best known for his character Ali G, a wannabe gangsta rapper who appeared on his own HBO show, the Jewish, London-born son of a clothing-store owner and an aerobics instructor studied history at Cambridge. The 6'3" Baron Cohen, 35, lives in L.A. with fiancée Isla Fisher, 30 (Wedding Crashers). Says fellow British comic Ricky Gervais: "He's very quiet and very clever."

WHERE'S KAZAKHSTAN?

Central Asia. It's oil-rich and four times the size of Texas. And no, its citizens don't drink horse urine and keep women in cages, as Borat claims.

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