Fans of Borat who have been worried that Sacha Baron Cohen's new film, Bruno, would be a step down in quality can relax. Universal Pictures showed 20 minutes of footage to a small crowd of South By Southwest attendees last night, and the results were explosive. I don't know that I've ever heard an audience so completely lost in loud, helpless paroxysms of laughter. It was the equivalent of doing 20 minutes of cardio. Even if some of what we saw doesn't make it into the final cut (due in theaters July 10), it bodes exceedingly well for the movie's fortunes.

Universal assured us we were the first people anywhere to see these scenes, and they were introduced by Baron Cohen himself ... on video, anyway. Using a highly exaggerated upper-class British accent ("Bruno is a funny old chap"), Baron Cohen filmed segments specifically for SXSW in which he explained what we were about to see in each of the three sequences.

Bruno, as you may know, is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion designer. The first sequence showed him seeking babies for a photo shoot, interviewing unsuspecting parents about what their toddlers can or cannot do. ("Is your baby comfortable with bees, wasps, and hornets?") If I were a betting man, I'd wager this is the sequence that will produce lawsuits. Some of these stage parents come across as awfully callous, apparently willing to subject their children to all manner of dangerous circumstances. Hilarious and appalling.