Obama shows his funny side while promoting Obamacare

Compiled by JJ Feinauer, Deseret News

Published: Tue, March 11, 2014, 3:05 p.m. MDT

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Oba

 President Barack Obama smiles while speaking about raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. President Barack Obama made a comedic guest appearance on “Between Two Ferns,” a parody talk show hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis that airs on Funnyordie.com.

Editor's note: While the video embedded below is free of profanity, other episodes of "Between Two Ferns" frequently feature crass humor and language.

President Barack Obama made a comedic guest appearance this morning on “Between Two Ferns,” a parody talk show hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis that airs on Funnyordie.com, hoping to effectively promote the health care exchanges on healthcare.gov to a much-needed younger audience.

Though the sketch has been generally well received by Funny or Die viewers (the video currently has an overwhelming score of “Funny” on the website’s “Funny or Die” meter), it has not escaped criticism.

Recognizing that the sketch was intended to be a humorous plug for the Affordable Care Act, The Atlantic’s David A. Grahm laments that the president has effectively substituted a relationship with the press with talk shows and comedy sketches.

“It's clearly important for the functioning of democracy for leaders to be subject to adversarial questioning,” Grahm writes, “which Galifianakis clearly isn't delivering.”

“On the other hand, part of the president's job is to communicate,” he continues, "and that's what he's doing here: trying to reach a specific audience.”

Jim Geraghty of the National Review, however, is much less forgiving. “Getting the president to pop up in every conceivable entertainment context is a deliberate strategy by this White House,” Geraghty wrote after the video went live this morning. “It is an awful development, and the next president has to at least try to put this genie back in the bottle.”

“The presidency of the United States is not meant to be an all-encompassing, ubiquitous role in the national culture," he continues. "It is a job, with a four-year contract and an option for another four. And there is no shortage of real work in that job.”

Rep. Randy Weber of the 14th Congressional District of Texas took to Twitter to express his distaste for the tactic:

However, Funny or Die regulars weren’t the only ones pleased with the president’s performance. The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanely was not only shocked by how well the president held his own during the interview, but by how comically brutal Galifianakis was despite the mantle of the man before him.

“It took confidence to take his message to such an unwelcoming arena,” Stanely wrote, noting that many of the jokes (such as the president's identification as a “community organizer” instead of president of the United States) played off of bitter attacks from his political opponents.

Whether or not the president weakened his image as a dignified commander-in-chief, as Geraghty suggests, or simply effectively strengthened his message with younger voters, the tactic seems to have worked for health care enrollments, according to senior White House communications adviser Tara McGuinness:

JJ Feinauer is a Web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @jjfeinauer.

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

Related Stories
1. the old switcharoo
mesa, AZ,
March 11, 2014

It just wasn't very funny except for the "try being short, fat and smell like Doritos and make it in Hollywood."

2. David
Centerville, UT,
March 11, 2014

Obama, Community Organizer, Commander in Chief, President of the United States, Obamacare Insurance Sales Rep.

Yep, he has many hats and titles.

It seems the title he is exercising the most, however, is Obamacare Insurance Sales Rep.

When do we get a president?

One a better note, it is good to see his humorous side.

3. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
March 11, 2014

It's no surprise the Right Wing publication, The National Review, would heap criticism on Obama for appearing in a comedy sketch.

But communication is communication. And Obama really can't communicate through a Right Wing Propaganda outlet that takes his message and distorts it beyond all recognition.

What Right Wingers fail to realize is that their Right Wing publications are much less reflective of reality than programs like the Colbert Report. Colbert and John Stewart can convey truths, while Right Wing Propaganda outlets seek to hide the truth and substitute ridiculous spin.

Essentially Right Wing so-called "News" outlets are not news outlets at all. They're completely fictional and an "alternate reality," as Charles Krauthammer so accurately characterized FOX "NEWS."

It's silly that Nielson ratings would even put FOX "NEWS" in the same category as legitimate News outlets like CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN etc.

FOX "NEWS" is to real news as Professional Wrestling is to the Olympics.

Obama has every right to communicate to the American people without having his words and motives twisted by a distorted Right Wing lens.

4. Mountanman
Hayden, ID,
March 11, 2014

Gary O. If you don't like Fox News, don't watch it! For millions of the rest of us, its like a breath of fresh air!

5. David
Centerville, UT,
March 11, 2014


If ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc provide such great information and truth, why can't Obama communicate and get his message out through those outlets?

Does the entire country only get their news through FOX so Obama must go to comedy network programming to get his message out?

Or, is Obama...

...simply a joke?