Saturday, March 15, 2014

Life Between Two Ferns

Between Two Ferns
With Zach Galifianakis
Created by B.J. Porter and
Scott Aukerman
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

This past week, the rest of the world was let in on a little television secret that a relative few of us already knew about.

Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest shows on television of any kind. Period.

The episode this week with President Barack Obama, while clearly used by the Administration to help pitch the President's Health Care Plan to the under-40 crowd, also succeeded in bringing the cult show into the radar of a wider audience.

The show originated as a short film on Writers and Creators B.J. Porter and Scott Aukerman's Fox sketch pilot The Right Now! Show, a spin-off of their highly successful Comedy Death-Ray live show at the Upright Citizen's Brigade in Los Angeles.

After Fox Television declined to pick up the show, the writing team put the short up on the website Funny Or Die, where it made the transition to an internet-only series.

Between Two Ferns plays like a cross between a Local Public Access Talk Show from the 1980's except with major Celebrities and works on two levels.

First of all it satirizes and skewers the Hollywood Publicity Machine.

Drawing upon the improvisational skills of the actors and comedians, like John Hamm (MadMen), Andy Richter (The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien) and Galifianakis (The Hangover), who honed those skills on the Comedy Death-Ray Live stage, the guests are not given advanced notice on questions Galifianakis is going to ask.

It's even doubtful if Galifianakis knows what he is going to say until the camera red light goes on.

The results are funny, irreverent,  sometimes uncomfortable, while always being totally unpredictable.

The show's guests over the years have included Michael Cera, Jimmy Kimmel, Bradley Cooper, Sally Field, Emmanuel Lewis and many others.

The show is also spot on with it's set plucked out of a 1980's Public Access Cable Show (black background with two potted plants on each side of the set...thus the name).  Then there is the use of an old Chyron to generate graphics operated by Inexperienced High School or Community College Volunteers who have a tendency to mess up the titles.

They list Barack Obama as a "Community Organizer".  They misspell Justin Bieber's name as "Beevers".  They misidentify Webster's Emmanuel Lewis as "Daniel Day-Lewis".

I like the schedule for the show too.  Which is whenever the producers and Galfianakis have the time to do it. (Twenty episodes in five years.)

Kind of like writing The Daily Bosco Blog.

It would be nice if a network would pick this show up and it could become a regular television show, but it would also take away part of the charm of the show.  Like finding a good Public Access show, it's fun to watch on the internet.  It actually should be on Channel 3 of your cable system.

In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, you have twenty episodes to get caught up on.

So let the binge watching begin.

As for President's Obama marketing campaign for his Health Care Plan?

Whether you agree with his Health Care Plan or not, His appearance on Between Two Ferns this week was a major success and a stroke of marketing genius as it drove thousands of young people under 30 to the website to sign up before open enrollment ends on March 31.

A much needed demographic if the President's Plan is going to succeed.

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