Barack Obama on Between Two Ferns: President roasts Zach Galifianakis on spoof chatshow
"Is this what they mean by drones?"
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Tuesday 11 March 2014
In what some may consider his riskiest interview to date, US President Barack Obama has appeared on Between Two Ferns, a spoof chatshow hosted by Zach Galifianakis, star of The Hangover.
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Galifianakis’s show, which is broadcast online by the comedy website Funny Or Die, has earned cult status for its uncomfortable celebrity interviews. “Is it going to be hard in two years,” he asked Mr Obama, “when you’re no longer President and people stop letting you win at basketball?”
According to a report in the New York Times, the show’s executive producer Mike Farah approached the White House last summer to suggest the President submit himself to Mr Galifianakis’s questioning, in order to promote the Affordable Care Act, the controversial new healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
The President agreed, and the six-minute interview was recorded two weeks ago. His appearance has generated significant social media attention since it debuted online on Tuesday morning. Previous episodes of Between Two Ferns have drawn as many as 30 million views. “When I heard people actually watched this show, I was pretty surprised,” Mr Obama told its host.
The appearance was consistent with the administration’s efforts to engage millennials, and to encourage them to take advantage of the Obamacare provisions. The President used his appearance to urge young people to sign up for health insurance at the website healthcare.gov, which is now in full working order following its disastrous launch in October 2013.
Mr Galifianakis asked the President: “You said if you had a son, you would not let him play [American] football. What makes you think that he would want to play football? What if he was a nerd, like you?” Mr Obama replied: “Do you think a woman like Michelle would marry a nerd?”
Asked if he wished he could run for President a third time, Mr Obama said, “If I ran a third time it would be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?”
Mr Farah told the New York Times that the President and his aides were amenable collaborators. “They were definitely easier than working with most Hollywood publicists,” he said.
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