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Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis is a bona fide hit.
The video, in which Clinton withstands a series of awkward and often insulting questions from Galifianakis‘ wacky talk show host, broke Funny or Die records after it appeared online on Sept. 22. The video was viewed more than 30 million times in its first 24 hours, the highest first-day viewership in Funny or Die history.
It had been nearly two years since the last episode of Between Two Ferns — an October 2014 clip with Brad Pitt — when the video went live on Wednesday at 5 a.m. PT. Within hours it was trending on Facebook and Twitter. It became the most socialed Funny or Die clip — with 500,000 Facebook shares and 25,000 retweets — in its first day.
“There are a million different things that are in your face all the time,” says Funny or Die CEO Mike Farah, referencing the fragmented video landscape. “Without fail, every time that Ferns comes out, it becomes the thing that everyone is talking about. That’s very rare, so when it happens it should be celebrated.”
Created by Galifianakis and Scott Aukerman, Between Two Ferns began in 2008 with guest Michael Cera. Over the years, the series has attracted some big names, including a 2014 appearance by President Barack Obama that has 16.4 million views on YouTube.
It turns out that it was all Clinton’s idea to appear in the video. “She had seen the one we did with President Obama and thought it was really funny and effective,” Farah says. “She told her staff about it and they got in touch with me.”
The video was filmed at the New York Historical Society on Sept. 9, the same day that Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia. But Farah says she was up for anything. “I would say about 90 percent of it was improv,” he adds. “Everyone felt she was very cool, very comfortable. We were all surprised when it came out a few days later that she had pneumonia. It makes her willingness to be game for something as absurd as Between Two Ferns that much more impressive.”
Funny or Die released the video like it would any episode of Between Two Ferns, but Farah believes it took off in part because of how pervasive the 2016 presidential election has become. Even Donald Trump supporter Kid Rock tweeted that the video was funny.
“What’s amazing is that this many episodes in that people find them still so, so funny,” says Farah. “I had lots of people email me or put on Facebook that this was one of their favorite, if not their favorite, episode ever. It’s really a credit to Zach and Scott that there’s so many great jokes.”
Even though political figures have turned out to be popular guests for Between Two Ferns, Farah says he’s not sure that the show will ever host Trump. “That’s Zach and Scott’s call,” he says “I don’t know if Trump has the temperament to take that abuse. But if he reached out, I guess there would be a potential conversation. It really does come down to Zach and Scott and if they feel like they can make it funny.”
Watch the video below.
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