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The Backstory Behind That Viral Obama/Galifianakis ‘Funny or Die’ Video

The Backstory Behind That Viral Obama/Galifianakis 'Funny or Die' Video

According to The Hollywood Reporter,“ within hours of President Barack Obama’s appearance with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the Funny or Die website Tuesday, the video of their mock interview had become the number one driver of traffic to HealthCare.gov. They go on to say that the video got “more than 3 million views within the first few hours after it went live Tuesday morning” (March 11th).  

Both the White House and the Funny or Die website gained criticism for the stunt, but it worked. 

“We have to find ways to break through to younger Americans… This is essentially an extension of the code we have been trying to crack for seven years now.” stated presidential communications strategist Dan Pfeiffer.  

Words from the White House supported that argument. “We, obviously, assess opportunities that we have and look at whether or not they’re going to be successful and wise, and I think we made the right call here … I think the average video gets something like 6 million views. I’m convinced we’re going to break that average… I can assure you that the Funny or Die video will be one of the reasons we get young Americans to HealthCare.gov, one of the reasons we get young Americans to enroll in health insurance programs, but not the only one,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Even getting the president to participate in such a stunt wasn’t easy as explained in Time Magazine. It all started in July 2013 in a meeting at the White House that was part of an official effort to engage with Hollywood to help public awareness of the Affordable Care Act. Mike Farah, Funny Or Die’s president of production and his team, came up with ideas and, as they said, “at the top of the list was ‘Between Two Ferns.’”

Even though they eventually didn’t pitch the “Two Ferns” idea, Farah stated that it “started a whole partnership with the White House,” adding that, “It was cool to meet the President, but it was a lot better to go out and do the work to try and make some things.”

The first thing they worked on to promote the Affordable Care Act was in September 2013, a spoof of Scandal, starring Jennifer Hudson. That fall, the President’s advisor, Valerie Jarrett, visited Funny Or Die, and sat down with Galifianakis, and the topic of ‘Between Two Ferns’ came up. And by the time the President wanted to get more directly involved, the groundwork had already been laid, according to the Time magazine report.

Farah and the Funny Or Die team finally returned to the White House several weeks ago, where they filmed the skit, and stated to Time that, the production was seamless and there was “very little material on the cutting room floor”.

As of this writing, the video has gotten 14,440,910 Views. Watch the video below:

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