DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
'Between Two Ferns': Low-Budget, High Sarcasm
July 2, 2013  | By Gabriela Tamariz
 
 
Editor's Note
: In 1975, while still a graduate student in journalism and communications at the University of Florida, I was given the chance to write a column as a TV critic for the local newspaper,
The Gainesville Sun. That turned into many more, which turned into a career. So now, nearly 40 years later, I'm extending a similar opportunity, and challenge, to another UF journalism graduate student, Gabriela Tamariz, whom we've asked to select and review TV offerings from alternative web sources. I once was the youngest TV critic on the block, eagerly covering a whole new world of cable television. Now it's Gaby's turn... and based on her initial selection and review, TV Worth Watching is in good hands. -David Bianculli   

Hosted by comedian/actor/TV personality Zach Galifianakis, Between Two Ferns is a hilarious low-budget talk show conducted between two potted ferns. Movie-star guests such as Ben Stiller, Bruce Willis and Sean Penn (among other A-list celebrities) submit themselves to the improvised talk show and Galifianakis’ off-handed mockery, delivering genuinely off-the-cuff reactions.

“Does it ever make you sick to look in the mirror and see how handsome you are, and to know there are disfigured people in the world?” he flatly inquires of AMC’s Mad Men star Jon Hamm (left).

The web series premiered in 2007 and has continued to garner millions of viewers. The first episode with guest Michael Cera has been viewed over 10 million times. The 16 short episodes are available on FunnyOrDie.com, a sketch comedy website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

What makes this web series so appealing is the comedic cooperation and fake intimacy between the host and celebrity guests that we often see in ordinary promotional interviews on other entertainment outlets. It’s always compelling to see famous people make fun of themselves, and Galifianakis takes it to a completely different level of sarcasm.

“Did you know that some actors turn down roles?” he asks actor Bruce Willis (top) in Episode 11.

Even as guests are introduced, their extensive careers are reduced to older — and sometimes forgotten — roles, as in Episode 8 with guest Ben Stiller, identified as the star of Duplex (a 2003 comedy with Drew Barrymore, and one of the lesser-known entries on Stiller's resume). 

The show is full of awkward silences, sensitive commentary and random sponsorship interruptions — all of it amusing. Between Two Ferns is a comfortable environment for Galifianakis to do what he does best as a comedian, and not just play Alan from the popular Hangover trilogy. Picture Galifianakis, with a deadpan expression, applying Speed Stick deodorant, endorsing a product he clearly does not use.

Galifianakis pushes the envelope in this unscripted, suspenseful series with his explicit language and unsophisticated material, yet it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. 

MUST WATCH EPISODES:

Episode 3: Jon Hamm

Episode 11: Bruce Willis

Episode 7: Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter and Andy Dick

 
 
 
 
 
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