White House

Zach Galifianakis Asks Obama: ‘What’s It Like To Be the Last Black President?’

The president appeared on the comedian’s Web series to plug the Affordable Care Act.

National Journal
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Brian Resnick
March 11, 2014, 4:02 a.m.
Between Two Ferns with Zach Gal­i­fi­ana­kis: Pres­id­ent Barack Obama from Pres­id­ent Barack Obama

“I wouldn’t be here with you today if I didn’t have something to plug,” Pres­id­ent Obama told comedi­an Zach Gal­i­fi­ana­kis, betwixt ferns.

We be­lieve you on that one, Mr. Pres­id­ent.

Obama ap­peared on Gal­i­fi­ana­kis’s pop­u­lar Web series “Between Two Ferns,” on the web­site Funny or Die. In the show, Gal­i­fi­ana­kis plays a bum­bling idi­ot of an in­ter­view­er who gets away with ask­ing celebrit­ies the un­com­fort­able ques­tion. Take his in­ter­view of Justin Bieber as the de­fin­ing ex­ample of the style. He asked the teen pop star: “You’ve had three hair­styles. What’s next for your ca­reer?”

Obama got a sim­il­ar crit­ic­al treat­ment, along with some time to plug the health care ex­changes to the show’s pre­sum­ably young audi­ence.

Here are some of the best ques­tions Gal­i­fi­ana­kis asked the pres­id­ent of the United States, or as his show dis­played “Barack Obama (Sp?):Com­munity or­gan­izer.”

What is it like to be the last black pres­id­ent?

In 2013 you pardoned a tur­key; what do you have planned for 2014?

Do you send Am­bas­sad­or Rod­man to North Korea on your be­half?

What should we do about North Ikea?

You said if you had a son you would not let him play foot­ball. But what makes you think he would want to play foot­ball; what if he was a nerd like you?

Why would you get the guy who cre­ated the Zune to cre­ate your [health care] web­site?

The pres­id­ent got some shots in as well, say­ing how Brad­ley Cooper was the only reas­on the Hangover movies (that Gal­i­fi­ana­kis starred in) were worth watch­ing. (To which Gal­i­fi­ana­kis replied, “Be short fat and smell like Dor­i­tos and try to make it in Hol­ly­wood.”)

This is the latest in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tar­geted at­tempt to sell the health in­sur­ance ex­changes to young people. And maybe it sig­nals some anxi­ety over the March 31 dead­line to sign up for 2014 (the health of the ex­changes de­pends on young, healthy people sign­ing up). Pre­vi­ously, Joe Biden had ap­peared on The View to tout the be­ne­fits of the health pro­gram to moth­ers.

While some might scoff at how “un­pres­id­en­tial” the set­ting is — a Web series of all places — Obama has had great suc­cess with reach­ing people through non­tra­di­tion­al means. Take his Red­dit AMA dur­ing the 2012 cam­paign. While the in­ter­view was devoid of any real in­sights, it was the top post of the year for the site, with 5.5 mil­lion views.

Up­date: The gam­bit ap­pears to have worked as in­ten­ded. Ac­cord­ing to a tweet from a White House seni­or com­mu­nic­a­tions ad­visor, the No. 1 re­fer­rer to Health­Care.Gov today is the Funny or Die web­site.


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