Entertainment & Arts

Obama: Two Ferns sketch watched by 11m

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Media captionPresident Obama ribbed host Zack Galifianakis about the quality of The Hangover sequels

US President Barack Obama's appearance on spoof online chat show Between Two Ferns has been viewed more than 11 million times in 24 hours.

Mr Obama joined The Hangover star Zack Galifianakis to encourage young people to sign up for health insurance.

However he was soon asked about sending "ambassador Dennis Rodman" to North Korea and outlawing "same-sex divorce".

Executive producer and director Scott Aukerman said it was "strangely collaborative" with no jokes ruled out.

"We kept expecting resistance, but there wasn't any," he told Vulture after the video was published on the Funny or Die website.

"We kept expecting them to say, 'no, no, no, you can't have that joke', or 'no, no, no, you can't be funny, it has to all be about the Affordable Care Act'," he said.

"They knew that it had to be funny and it had to be what we normally do for anyone to actually watch it. So, to their credit, they actually stayed out of our way with it."

Mr Obama sparred with Galifianakis for three and a half minutes before mentioning healthcare.

He mocked the actor about The Hangover and his co-star Bradley Cooper, something Aukerman said he "could tell the president was really enjoying".

On being asked: "It must kind of stink, though, that you can't run [for president] three times?" by Galifianakis, Mr Obama replied: "If I ran a third time it would be like doing a third Hangover movie. It didn't really work out very well, did it?"

Image copyright Funny Or Die
Image caption After President Obama pressed the panic button the black background dropped to reveal the pair had been filming the interview in The White House

The director revealed they had been approached by The White House in July last year, but filming was only confirmed last minute and they flew to Washington DC within a week.

"I remember asking someone, 'am I allowed to speak to the president?'," recalled Aukerman.

"They said, 'what do you mean?' and I said, 'well, you know, I'm the director, am I allowed to direct the video?'. They said, 'of course!'."

Between Two Ferns has become a cult online hit thanks to interviews with stars such as James Franco, Natalie Portman and Samuel L Jackson.

A recent video featuring Justin Bieber being whipped by Galifianakis has now been viewed more than 17 million times.

"For me, the most important thing was that it didn't come across as an advertisement. I really wanted it to be a funny, normal Between Two Ferns video," said Aukerman.

"There's a long precedent of people doing talk shows in order to plug things, so it really didn't bother us at all. It makes sense that Obama would come on this show to plug this thing."

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