In early March, President Barack Obama was a guest on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ parody talk show “Between Two Ferns” on comedy website Funny or Die. Mr. Galifianakis’ embodies the awkward community television show host, often acting hostile towards his guests or asking strange and uncomfortable questions, usually with celebrities.
The interview with President Obama easily became the show’s most notorious. Obama stays in character with the show’s theme, trading insults and shifty glances with Galifianakis, like this response when he asks whether Obama is frustrated that he can’t run for a third term.
"If I ran a third time it would sort of be like doing a third ‘Hangover’ movie,” said the President to the star of the popular “Hangover” movie franchise. “Didn't really work out very well, did it?”
Later the interview switched to the health insurance exchange, with Obama pushing the importance of signing up and plugging both Healthcare.gov and the phone number people could call to find out more information.
Galifianakis responded with equal gibes (“Why did you get the guy who created the Zune to create [the healthcare] website?”) and by showing the President a wound from spider bites. Obama says “You gotta get that checked out.”
The video was a hit, both for “Between Two Ferns” and Healthcare.gov. “Between Two Ferns” videos usually average 2 million views; by the next afternoon the Obama episode had over 13 million views. FunnyorDie.com was the number one referral website to Healthcare.gov, and traffic to the health care website was up 40 percent over the previous day.
That same day, however, February enrollment numbers came out and things hadn’t improved for young people and health insurance: as of the end of February people ages 18 to 34 only made up 25 percent of enrollees overall with a month to go.