President Barack Obama visited comedian Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns Funny or Die web series and fielded the sorts of questions only Galifianakis would and could ask. Other than a lengthy spiel where the commander in chief plugged healthcare.gov and gracefully endured the comedian’s barbed comments about it (“Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your website?”), Obama handled questions like, “In 2013, you pardoned a turkey; what do you have planned for 2014?” and “What should we do about North Ikea?” with verve.
The segment begins with Galifianakis apologizing for canceling on the president a couple of times and then shushing him so the pseudo–cable access show can start. It’s full of the host’s awkward stares and frustrations (apparently he was bitten by spiders and needed to ask the president if the Affordable Care Act would cover his treatments, to which Obama said, “That’s disgusting”).
And Galifianakis did not go light on the president, at least in terms of weirdness. He dryly touched on birthers, asking Obama about his “home country” of Kenya, wondering what it was like to be the “last black president” and approaching a sort of jock-nerd rivalry with the president by asking what it will be like once the president is out of office and people won’t let him win at basketball anymore. In turn, Obama ribs Galifianakis right back, comparing a third term to a third Hangover movie (“It just doesn’t work”) and praising Bradley Cooper’s acting in the movies, saying that actor really “carried” those movies to Galifianakis’ (fake) chagrin.
It’s hard to imagine the bit wasn’t scripted, but even if it was, it showed again that the president understands a punch line, even if it’s awkwardly paced. There’s even a presidential twist at the end. Obama can take a joke.