President Barack Obama is letting the American people – namely healthy, young consumers -- laugh at him in a new effort to promote signing up for insurance plans on Healthcare.gov before the March 31 enrollment deadline.
POTUS, with his title listed on-screen as "community organizer," appeared on the low-budget talk-show parody Between Two Ferns, on which host Zach Galifianakis derides guests and asks questions meant to make them uncomfortable and create tension.
The president, in a move perhaps left over from his Saturday Night Live appearance, rarely broke character, giving the impression that he and Galifianakis were butting heads and developing a serious distaste for one another. When it came time for Obama to plug Healthcare.gov, the host undermined it by asking, "Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your website?" Galifianakis added that he had neither a phone nor a computer to enroll.
The Healthcare.gov promotion was subtle because the host did not let his guest linger on the subject long, initially rolling his eyes at the idea of someone coming on the show to make a pitch, and quickly panning the president’s basketball skills. "Is it going to be hard in two years when you're no longer president and people stop letting you win at basketball?" he asked, calling Obama a nerd for saying he would not let his son play football, if he had one.
A backdrop of black cloth fell down in the final seconds of the interview, revealing it was shot in the White House, drawing more (supposedly) feigned ire from the president. Galfianakis blamed President George W. Bush.
The New York Times called the strategy a "new approach" made by this administration to attract the attention of the "connected but distracted" generation, noting that this president has proven more willing than his predecessors to show his humorous side. As his reelection campaign was heating up in April 2012, Obama went on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to "slow jam the news." (Former rival Mitt Romney did the same this January).
Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s senior adviser and chief communications strategist told The Times, "We have to find ways to break through…This is essentially an extension of the code we have been trying to crack for seven years now."