Zach Galifianakis Tried to Make His ‘Between Two Ferns’ Guests Uncomfortable For This Reason

Zach Galifianakis’s parody show, Between Two Ferns, just became a Netflix movie. The public-access format with an awkward interviewer who makes guests squirm has garnered some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.

What is ‘Between Two Ferns’ about?

Zach Galifianakis
Zach Galifianakis at the premiere of Netflix’s ‘Between Two Ferns: The Movie’ | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Since 2008, when the first Between Two Ferns video was uploaded to the website, Funny or Die, Galifiankis has made guests feel as uncomfortable as possible.

Galifianakis’s long pauses, bold and embarrassing line of questions and sometimes inappropriate comments make for pretty good TV. You likely won’t find celebrity interviews on this level of comedic schtick anywhere else.

Some guests throughout the 21 episodes (and a handful of specials) include Charlize, Theron, Jon Hamm, Will Ferrell, Hilary Clinton, Bradley Cooper, Michale Cera, and even former President, Barack Obama.  The series was created by Scott Aukerman and B.J. Porter. There are also two ferns present on set, for obvious reasons.

The rules of the show are simple. Guests that participate aren’t given the questions beforehand. When cameras are rolling, Galifianakis improvises on general prewritten questions and ideas. The celebrities are there to react more than give insightful answers.

“To take a four- or five-minute video and blow it up into a movie — how would you do that?” Galifianakis told the LA Times of the movie. “And why would you do that?”

Who is Zach Galifianakis?

Galifianakis is most known for his roles in The Hangover and Baskets, but Between Two Ferns is his longest-running project to date. For 11 years, the actor, comedian, and writer has humbled Hollywood’s A-list actors and politicians alike.

Galifianakis first gained popularity in 2001 with his Comedy Central Presents special, then hosted Late World with Zach on VH1 a year later.

Who does Zach Galifianakis interview on the ‘Between Two Ferns’ movie?

The Netflix rendition follows the absurd host as he takes his dream across the country in hopes of hitting it big in the late-night circuit. Galifianakis’s guests this time around include Keanu Reeves, Brie Larson, Matthew McConaughey, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, and Tiffany Haddish.

In the same interview with the LA Times, Aukerman discussed their process in getting big names to do the show. “We started shooting with no one on board. It’s a crazy way to do a movie, to not know what you’re shooting.

He continued saying, “The script was just a jumble of ideas, and I would just say, ‘Trust us. It’s going to be great!'” Galifianakis, on the other hand, didn’t always know who the celebrities were (the episode with Cardi B. is one example).

Why does Zach Galifianakis like to make his guests ‘feel weird’?

In an interview on the red carpet for the Between Two Ferns premiere, Galifianakis told Variety, “When I look at the questions, I don’t want to hurt people. I just want to make them feel weird. There’s a very fine line.”

Galifianakis told USA Today how he remains deadpan throughout his interviews, which are crucial to making them “feel weird.”

“Well, mostly I’m dead inside,” he joked. “I’m not a very good speaker, in general, and I’m pretty nervous on camera sometimes. I use that energy. I try to pretend that I’m a real journalist like yourself, but asking terrible questions.”

All the discomfort on-set is because Galifianakis is looking out for you, Hollywood. Between Two Ferns is his gift, to you (and us).