With a "death to the West," Baron Cohen greeted red carpet staple Ryan Seacrest.
In an awkward, patently staged exchange, the "Borat" star claimed he was carrying the ashes of recently departed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, saying it was his dream to come to the Oscars.
Baron Cohen then spilled the ashes all over Seacrest's black tuxedo before security guards pretended to drag him away.
The whole thing was light on laughs and heavy on publicity stunt.
Perhaps it played better on the carpet then it did on the boob tube, or maybe thanks to the magic of movie editing, it will be a hilarious outtake on "The Dictator" DVD.
The Academy had originally banned Baron Cohen from appearing in character at the ceremony, but relented after asking the actor's team to inform them of his plans, so that logistical arrangements could be made to have the proper security and facilities ready.