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Celebrating the Proud Tradition of Comedy Saddams

Celebrating the Proud Tradition of Comedy Saddams (photo)

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Deadline reported yesterday that “Borat” creator Sacha Baron Cohen is set to star in “The Dictator,” a comedy hased on the novel “Zabibah and The King” by Saddam Hussein. According to the press release from Paramount Pictures — who will release “The Dictator” on May 11, 2012, the film “tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.” The film will be directed by Larry Charles, who also directed Cohen’s “Borat” and “Bruno” movies.

It sounds like a clever pairing of talent and subject matter, but when Cohen straps on that familiar beret and mustache, he won’t be the first guy to play Saddam Hussein for laughs onscreen. For my money, we’ve already had a definitive comic Saddam. That’s actor Jerry Haleva, who played Hussein in several ’90s comedies, most notably as the big bad in Jerry Abrahams’ “Hot Shots: Part Deux.” If you’re unfamiliar with Haleva’s inspired shamelessness in the role, here’s a clip:

Haleva’s services were in high demand throughout the ’90s: he’d already played Saddam, briefly, in the first “Hot Shots” and he’d play him again, briefly, in the famous dream sequence from “The Big Lebowski.”

Haleva’s Hussein was a sweetly innocent punchline; with his lisp and bad fencing skills he posed no threat whatsoever. But “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone seized on Saddam’s potential as a true fiend, still silly but now in league with Satan himself (who’s really a much nicer guy than Saddam, actually). In the “South Park” movie “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut,” they made Hussein into the bobbleheaded embodiment of over-the-top villainy.

The second Gulf War — not to mention the man’s death by hanging, maybe the least funny method of execution — has taken a lot of the fun out of mocking Saddam. He’s made a few guest appearances on “South Park,” but Haleva’s IMDb page has been quiet since 2002’s HBO miniseries “Live From Baghdad” (apparently he works as a lobbyist now). I’m looking forward to the return of the comedic Saddam in the hands of Cohen. And who knows? Maybe he can find Haleva a cameo as one of the doubles Saddam was rumored to have used during his reign.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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