Obama vs. Galifianakis: Who Won Between Two Ferns?

5 minute read

As you’re undoubtedly aware if you’ve spent any time on the internet today, President Obama was Zach Galifianakis’ guest on his Funny or Die faux talk show “Between Two Ferns.” The six-and-a-half minute segment, taped at White House two weeks ago, was in keeping with Galifianakis’ usual banter on the show: awkward, uncomfortable and delightfully disrespectful. Unlike the typical “Between Two Ferns” guest, Obama is not an actor, but the episode was funny, clever and—when you take time to think about it—downright remarkable.

But who cares about all that really? This is Zach Galifianakis and the President of the United States going head-to-head, one-on-one. The only thing we really need to know is this: Who won?

ROUND 1 (Preamble)

Sure, going on “Between Two Ferns” is a pretty savvy move by Obama, but Galifianakis got the President of the United States to come on his fake talk show and answer asinine questions. Easy call.

Score: 10-8 Galifianakis


Galifianakis opens the segment by apologizing to the President for canceling a few times due to a broken mouse and diabetes medicine retrieval (not his own, his aunt’s) and Obama counters by expressing his shock that anyone actually watches Galifianakis’ show. Then Galifianakis shushes the President. Repeat: he shushes the President. (Also, though Obama couldn’t see, his title on the opening graphic is listed as “Community Organizer.” Sublime.)

Score: 10-8 Galifianakis


Galifianakis asks Obama what he has planned for 2014 after pardoning a turkey in 2013, and Obama tells Galifianakis he’ll pardon another one in 2014, then asks the host whether it makes him sad that there’s one turkey out there he won’t be able to eat. Then he smiles like this.

Score: 10-7 Obama


“So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf? I read somewhere you’d be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria. Or is that more of a job for Tanya Harding?” Starting to get ugly in a hurry here.

Score: 10-7 Galifianakis


This is the big action round, with the two participants trading a flurry of jabs:

“What’s it like for you to be the last black President?”

“What’s it like for this to be the last time you talk to a President?”

“It must kind of stink though that you can’t run three times.”

But here’s the uppercut that nearly ends the entire bout?

“Actually no, I think it’s a good idea. If I ran a third time, it would sort of be like doing a third Hangover movie. That didn’t work out very well, did it?”

Score: 10-7 Obama


Obama stays on the offensive by telling Galifianakis that Bradley Cooper completely carried the Hangover films (totally untrue, by the way, but that’s beside the point). Galifianakis counters by pointing out that his success is all the more impressive given the fact that he is “short, fat and smells like Doritos.”

Score: 10-9 Obama


Possibly the best exchange of the night comes when Galifianakis goes after Obama’s long-questioned basketball skills. Obama responds in kind, asking Galifianakis what it’s like to have a three-inch vertical. Galifianakis replies the only way that anyone ever will from now on, explaining that it’s actually a three-inch horizontal.

Score: 10-8 Galifianakis


It wouldn’t be an antagonistic interview with the President without a discussion of birth certificates. This time we learn that Galifianakis is embarrassed of his because his weight is listen at “seven pounds, 800 ounces,” which really seems like it would be more embarrassing for whoever filled out his birth certificate.

The interview also wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the First Lady, whom the President tells Galifianakis he certainly cannot meet.

Score: 10-9 Obama


Best line of the segment: “Do you go to any websites that are .coms or .nets or do you mostly just stick with .govs?” It also has the benefit of leading to this wonderful exchange:

“No actually, we go to .govs. Have you heard of healthcare.gov?”

“[Long sigh] Oh here we go. Okay let’s get this out of the way, what did you come here to plug?”

“I think it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have something to plug.”

Score: 10-9 Galifianakis


At this point of the pugilistic bout, Obama is a bit hamstrung by his need to plug healthcare.gov, so Galifianakis seizes the opportunity to land body blow after body blow, insulting the creator of the Zune, making “drones” puns and failing to understand the difference between “invincible” and invisible.”

Score: 10-7 Galifianakis


Obama on Galifianakis’ spider bite-infested arm: “That’s disgusting… That’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen.”

Galifianakis: “Is your plug over?”

Score: 10-9 Galifianakis


Obama concludes the interview by pressing the omnipresent “Between Two Ferns” EASY button, which causes the black backdrop to fall, revealing that the segment was taped in the Diplomatic Room of the White House (Galifianakis claims all the episodes have been taped there). Galifianakis then tricks the President into shaking his hand, in spite of the fact that the spider bite is “everywhere.”

Score: 10-9 Galifianakis

RESULT: Galifianakis by Decision (112-105)

Obama more than held his own throughout most of the segment (more than can be said for some participants) but Galifianakis is the Floyd Mayweather of the “Between Two Ferns” world—often challenged but never defeated. And besides, who would want to live in a world where the President could beat Galifianakis at his own game?

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