Apparently, the bad part about scoring an interview with the President is it kind of makes you blasé for sitting down with anybody else. Not that Zach Galifianakis of Between Two Ferns deserved his tete-a-tete with Obama, or for that matter
Bart Pit … Bradley Pitts … Brad Pitt, star of 2013’s 12 Years a Salve (sic).
(The Onion’s fictional “Outside Scoop” entertainment columnist, Jackie Harvey, has nothing on the almost-as-fictional Galifianakis when it comes to murdering names)
Yes, this interviewer is petty, combative, and utterly lacking in grace, but his interviewee, the celebrity who turns stone-faced and sullen almost immediately is no prize either.
Everyone’s miserable, even comedian Louis CK, whom Galifianakis summons with a few bars of his popular sitcom’s theme song. Moods seem on the verge of lifting when Galifianakis brings up Pitts’ starring role in “Benjamin Buttons,” but it doesn’t last. Inevitably, there are references to Pitt’s famous wife, as well as his ex, an earlier Between Two Ferns guest. (She’s no Tila Tequila…)
This is a different dynamic than the one Borat shared with certain incredulous, intelligent subjects. It’s a given that Pitt’s in on the joke. And it would seem that both gentlemen have something they’d like to get across regarding the dirty business of celebrity interviews.
Journalist Janice Turner, took a similar position when she wrote of her nightmarish 2013 interview with actor Rhys Ifans for the London Times:
The game is you listen politely while they plug their film, bang on about their ‘method’, the brilliance of their co-stars and directors etc. Then in return you hope they will offer up — without you having to prod and pester like some celebrity stalker — the tiniest nugget of anecdote, a shard of light upon their real selves.
Because they hate the game too, and particularly since it is mainly conducted in hotel suites, you feel as if you’re engaged in an odd form of prostitution, one where it remains unclear who is the hooker and who the john.
Her perspective brings a certain purity to the Galifianakis-Pitt Ferns stand-off. Certainly, neither of them is playing the game.
If you want to learn how to conduct a horrible interview, watch Galifianakis.
If you want tips on how to make it worse, watch Pitt.
And if you want to be a movie star, seek ways to laugh at yourself without breaking character.
An Awkward/NSFW Interview with Nirvana Producer Steve Albini (Plus B-52 Frontman Fred Schneider)
Hear Bob Dylan’s Unedited & Bewildering Interview With Nat Hentoff for Playboy Magazine (1965)
The Surreal Short Films of Louis C.K., 1993-1999
Watch Frank Zappa Play Michael Nesmith on The Monkees (1967)
Ayun Halliday is the creator of The Mermaid’s Legs, a trauma-filled Hans Christian Andersen reboot playing this week in NYC. See it! And follow her @AyunHalliday
. Follow us on
. And don't miss our big collections of