An Emmy for Obama?

By Ross Gianfortune

July 11, 2014

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.

Between Two Ferns with POTUS just nominated for an Emmy!

— Eric Schultz (@Schultz44) July 10, 2014

Between Two Ferns episode w/ President Obama just nominated for an Emmy! @funnyordie @ScottAukerman @galifianakisz

— Dag Vega (@DagVega44) July 10, 2014

Congrats @FunnyOrDie @Galifianakisz @ScottAukerman @mike_farah & that one community organizer on your Emmy nomination for Between Two Ferns

— Valerie Jarrett (@vj44) July 10, 2014

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.

http://t.co/FrO24hdvcA is the #1 source of referrals to http://t.co/0r93BavlrV right now.

— Tara McGuinness (@HealthCareTara) March 11, 2014

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.


By Ross Gianfortune

July 11, 2014

http://www.govexec.com/federal-news/fedblog/2014/07/emmy-obama/88483/