There's a scene in "The Dictator," Sacha Baron Cohen's latest fish-out-of-water publicity stunt/movie, that shows the film's made-up Middle Eastern character, Admiral General Aladeen, flying in a helicopter over New York City making jokes about 9/11.
Obviously, this is not the first time Cohen's flirted with controversy. Audiences were shocked/entertained/amused by the British comedian's audacious commitment to character in his mockumentary features, "Borat" and "Bruno," where he explored taboo subjects such as racism, religion and sexuality, often holding up a magnifying glass to the average American's discomfort with these issues.
To prep for the incoming water-cooler-conversation regarding "The Dictator," let's take a look at some of cinema's most controversial comedy films.
Charlie Chaplin's most successful film, about a poor Jewish barber who is inadvertently mistaken for a very Hitler-like leader, was one of the first pieces of entertainment to come out against the Nazi regime. It was banned in many parts of Europe (for obvious reasons).
Though now regarded as a comedy classic, this film -- about a group of actors who use their performing skills to evade Nazi troops in occupied Warsaw -- was initially not welcomed by the public (supposedly the father of director Ernst Lubitch walked out of the premiere, due to the film's comedic use of Nazis).
The breakthrough film of cult filmmaker John Waters was a midnight hit with young audiences. But the story of "the filthiest person alive" -- which features the infamous dog poop-eating scene -- was banned in Australia, Norway and parts of Canada.
The first X-rated animated film ever, about a hedonistic talking cat in 1960s NYC, suffered public scrutiny and lost advertisers due to the movie's sexual nature. The comedy went on to become the most successful independent animated film of all time.
Mel Brooks' Western parody struggled throughout production due to the movie's racial humor, screenwriter Richard Pryor's reputation and a notorious flatulence scene. Nevertheless, "Saddles" went on to become one of the first movies to make over $100 million at the box office.
The religious satire about Brian Cohen, born just next door to Jesus Christ, was banned in several British communities, Ireland and Norway. The film went on to become a box office hit and is regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever. To this day, it still receives protests when religious leaders screen the film for discussion.
Before they became kings with "The Book of Mormon" and "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone made this farce about a sensitive Mormon in the adult film industry. The movie's jokes were so over-the-top, it received an NC-17 rating, crippling its box office performance.
The adaptation of the black comedy-action video game from infamous German director Uwe Boll was delayed from release, then lost its deal to open in 1,500 theaters, due to the movie's political humor (in particular, an opening scene that lampooned 9/11).
The British satire about angry young Muslims who aspire to become Jihadists -- but go through serious rookie struggles -- was named one of Time Magazine's best movies of 2010 and earned a BAFTA award for writer/director Chris Morris.