March 11th, 2014
08:57 AM ET
9 months ago

No joke: Obama interviewed by Zach Galifianakis

Updated 12:29 p.m. ET, 3/11/2014

Washington (CNN) – President Obama took his message of health care for all to a cult internet comedy show, in an effort to get young people to sign up for Obamacare.

He appeared alongside Zach Galifianakis in the comedian and actor's mock talk-show called "Between Two Ferns." The interview with the President was recorded last month and posted Tuesday morning on the popular website "Funny or Die."

The six and a half minute wide ranging interview touched on pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys, to the president's ambassadorial picks, and health care. Galifianakis has become notorious for trying to make his guests on "Between Two Ferns" feel uncomfortable. But Obama appeared to hold his own, giving as good as he got.

Some of the bit was ad-libbed and some of it was scripted, according to a White House official. They had to stop the interview at points because the President would break out in laughter, the official added.

White House officials knew some of the questions were going to be "edgy," but the President was game for it. An official said Galifianakis expressed some concern about his material (we'll let you guess which parts), but officials assured the comedian that Obama would be just fine, they said.

On ambassadors:
Galifianakis: So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf? I read somewhere that you'd be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria, or is that more of a job for Tonya Harding.
Obama: Zach – he's not our ambassador.

On being President:
Galifianakis: What's it like to be the last black president?
Obama: Seriously, what's it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?

On same sex marriage:
You know what I would do if I were president, Mr. President, I would make same-sex divorce illegal. Then see how bad they want it.
Obama: I think that's why you're not president, and that's a good thing.

On Obamacare:
Galifianakis: So do you go to any websites that are dot-coms, or dot-nets, or do you mainly just stick with dot-govs?
Obama: No actually we go to dot-govs, have you heard of Healthcare.gov?
Galifianakis: Oh here we go, okay let's get this out of the way, what did you come here to plug?
Obama: Well first of all I think it's fair to say I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug.
Have you heard about the Affordable Care Act?
Galifianakis: Oh yeah, I've heard about that. That's the thing that doesn't work? Why would you  get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?
Obama: Healthcare.gov works great now. And millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans and what we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care. And most young Americans, right now they're not covered. And the truth is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cellphone bill.

On NSA Snooping:
Galifianakis: I don't have a phone, I'm off the grid. I don't want you people reading my texts, you know what I mean?
Obama: First of all Zac, no one is interested in your texts.

Undaunted, Obama brings the conversation back to Obamacare, and adds,  "But second of all you can do it in person, and the law means that insurers can't discriminate against you if you have a preexisting condition any more."

Galifianakis then rolls up his sleeve and shows the President an ailment on his arm, that Obama says is "disgusting" And tells him he needs to get it checked right away. He then makes one more plug for Obamacare saying, "Zac you need to get that checked right away. You need to get on Healthcare.gov because that's one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen.'

Galifianakis retorts, "Is your plug finally over?"

"I suppose so." Says the President.

At the end of the sketch, Obama pushes a button on a table between them, and a black curtain behind them falls to the ground to reveal that Galifianakis had actually been taping the show in the Diplomatic Room at the White House.  Galifianakis thanks the President for the interview and then adds, "Thanks for letting me shoot my show here all these years."

Obama asks, "Who gave you permission to do that?" Galifianakis responds, "Bush."

Meanwhile, the health care plug appeared to work for the Obama administration.

To say that "Between Two Ferns"  is an unusual outlet for a president is an understatement.  The show has a reputation for getting raunchy, and being very unscripted.

For example, when Justin Bieber appeared on set, Galifianakis told him, "Your dirty young punk attitude is not gonna work in this interview."

The comedian then called Bieber out for urinating in public, and then took off his belt and started whipping Bieber, telling him he didn't really think Bieber's mother would mind.

Galifianakis also made waves when he asked actress Natalie Portman for her phone number, and whether she shaved her private parts.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care • Healthcare • President Obama
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Wild W

    You go Barach!

    Republicans – you don't have a leg to stand on.

    March 11, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Brad

    Yes! Obama is the man and Galifianakis is one of my favorites. Our president is in touch with my modern generation and I couldn't be happier. If I didn't have company paid health insurance I'd totally buy in, however I'm less afraid of losing my job because of something stupid out of my control. Commenters: Of course the young pay for the old in insurance pools.

    March 11, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Hilarious...and a brilliant way to get word out....Obama and Galifiodisofdfsdkos (I admittedly can't spell it) are laughing hard at everyone who has their skivvies in a knot over this.

    March 11, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Obama can't go toe-to-toe with legitimate reporters and had to turn to comedians for interviews."

    Legitimate reporters? HAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Find me one and then we'll talk.

    March 11, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. BGoldtone

    "Two Flakes between Two ferns" How entertaining can it get?

    March 11, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. Ted

    Our society would still vote him in a 3rd time. Pathetic world we live in where this is considered acceptable. He's too busy picking brackets, appearing on the view, taking vacations and pushing his own agenda. rather than creating jobs and getting our economy back on track.

    March 11, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Hey... if the Democrats want to run defending the ACA, then I strongly encourage them to do so.
    ------------------------------–
    Any Democrat with any brains most certainly will. Democrats ran on promoting, not defending, the ACA in 2012 and won. Republicans campaigned against the ACA and got their tails handed to them on silver platters. If they wish to regurgitate their litany of lies and misinformation, then they will lose again.

    March 11, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Landrieu, toast. Pryor, toast. Shaheen, toast. Begich, toast. Hagen, toast. Udall, maybe toast. Harkin, gone. Baucus, gone. And if there's a God, Markey gets sent packing. By all means, Dems... run on the ACA.

    March 11, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. dawn t

    What kind if crap is this? What happened to a president concentrating in running the country? This is not the way to promote the travesty called Obamacare! It's garbage and a waste of this country's time and money- I'm sure the transportation and other arrangements were paid by taxpayers. Get back to the real job at hand Obama! !!!!!!!!

    March 11, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Nick

    I was surprised that Zach was able to rib Barak Obama about being born in Kenya. I thought those jokes were per se racist. Seriously, it 's interesting that no one is following up with the White House press office. Does Barack now think those jokes etc are funny? I don't.

    March 11, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Mark

    I'm not a supporter of Obama's progressive restructuring of our country so you could say I'm not a fan. That being said I felt sorry for the President because whoever thought this was a good idea should be fired! He's the President of the United States not a straight man for a comedian.

    March 11, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Ol' Yeller

    @Fair is Fair

    "In all seriousness, though...
    The questions Zach Galifianakis asked Obama were completely disrespectful to the President and to the office of the Presidency. The questions I have are these – WHO thought it was a good idea for the President to do this and WHY did he go ahead and do it? Totally beneath Obama to associate with a show like this. Not a wise move whatsoever."

    In all seriousness, though...

    The questions bill O'really asked Obama were completely disrespectful to the President and to the office of the Presidency. The questions I have are these – WHO thought it was a good idea for the President to do this and WHY did he go ahead and do it? Totally beneath Obama to associate with a clown like this. Not a wise move whatsoever.

    FIFY

    March 11, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Ted
    Our society would still vote him in a 3rd time. Pathetic world we live in where this is considered acceptable. He's too busy picking brackets, appearing on the view, taking vacations and pushing his own agenda. rather than creating jobs and getting our economy back on track
    ===============================

    You are coming across as one who thinks he is going to run for a third term. It's nothing more than a Fox News ratings nugget that keeps the TP's in a perpetual blah blah blah cycle of anti-Obama controversy.

    March 11, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Brad

    Ted wrote: he's too busy picking brackets,appearing on the view, taking vacations and pushing his own agenda.

    The interview was at the White House and it was 6 minutes long, perhaps the amount of time it took you to regurgitate what your daddy told you. I'm not sure what you think the president should be doing with his time. In those six minutes he generated quite a bit of publicity for his marquee bill. Do you prefer him sitting in a dark room on his laptop responding to all your friend's hate emails?

    March 11, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    The next group that needs to be addressed are Hispanics. I heard one of the hosts on Univivion menthion this. Many Hispanic households have members who are here legally, and some who may not be. The legal members are fearful of registering for health care out of fear for other members of the household who are not here legally. Other households have members with relatives, friends, and neighbors who do live under the same roof, but share the same types of fears.

    March 11, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. Anonymous

    "And the truth is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cellphone bill."

    Another lie. My cellphone bill is $35/mo. Healthcare through the exchange is $220/mo.

    March 11, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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