Warning to anyone much over the age of 50: If you watch Hillary Clinton’s interview on “Between Two Ferns” with comedian Zach Galifianakis, you may not get it.
Mrs. Clinton appears low energy, even a bit under the weather, and in a state of perpetual annoyance. The last part is intentional; the whole conceit of “BTF” on FunnyOrDie.com is that the celebrity guest has to put up with one rude, out-of-it question after another for five whole minutes. The guest knows it’s coming, and plays along.
Which Clinton did. But was she funny? And did she win any “cool” points with Millennial voters, who on paper support her but threaten not to show up on Election Day? She just doesn’t have the mojo of a Barack Obama – or even a Bernie Sanders – and if young voters don’t bother to turn out, she’s in trouble.
We’ll just say it straight up: The questions are funnier than the answers. But at least some Millennials beg to differ.
“Are you excited to be the first girl president?” Galifianakis asks. Clinton plays it straight, assuring the host that her election would mean a lot to both little girls and little boys. “That’s pretty special,” she says.
Galifianakis follows up: "For a younger, younger generation you will also become their first white president, and that's pretty neat, too.”
Then this: “As secretary, how many words per minute could you type? And how does President Obama like his coffee? Like himself – weak?"
“You know, Zach, those are really out of date questions,” deadpans Clinton, the former secretary of State.
Then she’s asked what she’ll wear next Monday at her first debate with Donald Trump – an opening for Clinton to note the double standard female candidates face, with attention to wardrobe that male candidates don’t usually face.
“I have no idea, so if you’ve got suggestions, I’m open to them,” she responded.
Galifianakis levels the playing field by asking what Mr. Trump might wear.
“I assume he’ll wear that red power tie,” she said.
“Or maybe like a white power tie?” Galifianakis quipped.
“That’s even more appropriate,” she shot back, a reference to Trump’s popularity among white nationalists.
“The Verge” website declared the bit a smashing success. “Hillary Clinton on Between Two Ferns is her campaign’s best youth play ever,” wrote Kaitlyn Tiffany. We suspected Ms. Tiffany was a Millennial, and a check of her social media accounts bears that out.
We also field tested Clinton’s BTF appearance with some friends, and got a range of responses. One older man thought she came across as prickly, awkward, cringing, and un-funny. “Neither performed well,” he said.
But a 40-something woman thought the whole thing was “hilarious.” Another, younger woman said Clinton “actually seemed human instead of robotic.”
And it turns out she was under the weather. The day of the taping, Sept. 9, was the day she was diagnosed with pneumonia – a point she did not reveal publicly until two days later, when she was videotaped looking wobbly after having left a 9/11 commemorative event in New York.
For President Obama, who appeared on BTF two and a half years ago, the bit was pure gold. The goal was to promote young-adult enrollment in health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, and he knocked it out of the park. Healthcare.gov clocked more than 30,000 referrals from FunnyOrDie.com the day Obama’s appearance went up.
As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, Clinton’s appearance had gotten 8.2 million views – quite good, actually. That’s actually better than Obama did in the hours after his BTF bit was posted. So maybe we Baby Boomers are wrong. Maybe Clinton will get credit for being a good sport and going up against Galifianakis while not feeling her best. At the very least, she’s got people buzzing.