Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

An Emmy for Obama?

Funny or Die

He's already got the Nobel Peace Prize and two Grammys, but will Barack Obama add an Emmy to his list of accomplishments?

Obama's March appearance on the Funny or Die Web series "Between Two Ferns" was nominated Thursday for an Emmy in the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program category. The acclaimed Zach Galifianakis's series is up against contenders like the Super Bowl halftime show and Adult Swim's surreal comedy "Children's Hospital."

Obama got rave reviews for the six-and-a-half-minute episode. He verbally sparred with Galifianakis and took Galifianakis' barbs -- including saying HealthCare.gov is "that thing that doesn't work" and calling the president "a nerd" -- with good humor. Our sibling site The Atlantic asked has "there ever been a president so adept at appearing on comedy shows?", The New Yorker called the appearance a "win," and Gawker endorsed it by saying "The whole thing is worth watching."

Technically, Obama isn't nominated for his appearance on the show. Executive producers of the show are the ones nominated and would receive the actual statuette in the case of a "Between Two Ferns" win. It is unclear if the presentation of the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program Emmy will be included in the Aug. 25 broadcast.

Obama and the Funny or Die producers received congratulations on Twitter on the nomination from White House staff.

Obama's appearance on the Web series was part of a March marketing effort by the White House. Amid problems with the technology behind the HealthCare.gov site, Obama appeared on the show to promote the Affordable Care Act to young people. The White House also tapped LeBron James to promote the ACA, worked with Funny or Die on other Obamacare-based videos and even sent Dennis McDonough to appear on ESPN Radio to sell listeners on the benefits of the law.

The episode did what the White House wanted it to do. As Obama tried to sell the ACA to young people, he showed he could have a sense of humor about a percolating scandal in the HealthCare.gov launch and, perhaps most importantly, lots of Funny or Die users clicked the link in the video to HealthCare.gov.

According to McDonough's appearance on ESPN Radio's "Tony Kornheiser Show," 80,000 people clicked from the "Between Two Ferns" episode directly to HealthCare.gov.

Washington- and government-related shows were well-represented in other categories. HBO's "Veep" (a favorite of GovExec staff) and federal penitentiary-set Netflix show "Orange is the New Black" were nominated five times, Congressional melodrama "House of Cards" secured four nominations, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin were nominated for their role in DHS-based "Homeland" and Kerry Washington was nominated for her role as Washington fixer in the fed-heavy -- nearly every major character on the show works for a federal agency or in the White House -- "Scandal." The local (and sometimes federal) government-based NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" garnered two nominations.

If you missed Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the video is below.

Prior to joining Government Executive’s staff, Ross Gianfortune worked at The Washington Post, The Gazette Newspapers, WXRT Radio and The Columbia Missourian. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Missouri and a master's in communications from the American University.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.