Michael Slezak
January 13, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Note to comedians playing U.S. sporting venues: Mess with the ”Star Spangled Banner” at your own peril. Sasha Baron Cohen, star of HBO’s Da Ali G Show, found that out the hard way when — apparently in character as cluelessly bigoted Borat, the TV host from Kazakhstan — he delivered a wretched rendition of the national anthem, People magazine reports.

According to the Roanoke Times, a man believed to be Cohen got the anger flowing by telling the crowd of 4,000, ”I hope you kill every man, woman, and child in Iraq down to the lizards. And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman, and child in Iraq.” By the time he finished the anthem with the line ”home in the grave,” the crowd had turned ”downright nasty.”

”If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him,” said Robynn James, a local radio host who was in the audience.

”Had we not gotten them out of there, there would have been a riot,” rodeo producer Bobby Rowe added. ”They loaded up the van and they screeched out of there.” While Rowe said he realized he had been hoaxed, and while some crowd members said they recognized Cohen, no one has definitively confirmed Ali G was indeed in da house.

An HBO spokesperson could not be reached in time for comment.

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