Scott Aukerman helped launch one of the internet’s most popular talk show spoofs, “Between Two Ferns.” He explains the unexpected origin of the program, what his goal is with interviewing celebrities and how it feels to play an entertaining buffoon — but don’t take anything he says too seriously. Aukerman shares his brief but spectacular take on his life in comedy.
Judy Woodruff: But, first, tonight’s Brief But Spectacular brings us some laughs.
Scott Aukerman helped to launch one of the Internet’s most popular talk show spoofs, “Between Two Ferns.”
A reminder, don’t take much of what Aukerman says here too seriously. His story is part of our ongoing Canvas, coverage of arts and culture.
Scott Aukerman: This is for PBS?
Scott Aukerman: Ah, my people.
“Between Two Ferns” started when I was doing a television pilot.
It was a really funny sketch show with a bunch of different people. And I asked Zach if he could do a small piece on it. And he said: “You know, I have always wanted to do a public access talk show called ‘Between Two Ferns.'”
You know, when you do public access, basically, you have just a black background. I’m not sure what this background is. Oh, you have a brick one here. It’s slightly nicer, 10 percent.
Whoa. Are these — I don’t know that they’re ferns.
The TV show ended up not going forward. So, just as an afterthought, a couple of months later, we put it on a new Web site called Funny or Die.
And then millions and millions of people watched it, and then celebrities kept calling us up, asking if they could do it.
Zach Galifianakis: My guest today is Justin Bieber.
Was it really upsetting in Star Wars that you didn’t have more scenes with Chewbacca?
Does it make you sick when you look in the mirror to see how handsome you are and to know that people are disfigured?
Actor, writer, comedian producer, which of Larry David’s skills do you admire the most?
Scott Aukerman: President Obama was someone that we wanted to land on “Between Two Ferns.” We just thought it was the funniest idea.
Zach Galifianakis: I have to know, what is it like to be the last black president?
Barack Obama: Seriously?
What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?
Scott Aukerman: We did shoot it at the White House, and I wanted to prove that it was the White House.
Zach Galifianakis: Don’t touch that, please.
Scott Aukerman: I actually loved the experience of doing the Hillary Clinton one way more, because we shot for over an hour, and just laughed a lot.
And, with Obama, it was all business. Five minutes after he walked into the room, they whispered to me, “The president has to go.”
Zach Galifianakis: I think that people deserve to know, are you down with TPP?
Hillary Clinton: I’m not down with TPP.
Zach Galifianakis: No, you’re supposed to say, yes, you know me, like the hip-hop groove.
Hillary Clinton: Don’t tell me what to say.
Scott Aukerman: When I first started “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” I think I was trying to do a very serious, but funny, lighthearted interview show.
But now, when you listen to the show, I’m basically just doing a joke interview.
Gary, what do you have in your pocket there?
Man: Yes. Well, it’s a little communicator.
Scott Aukerman: It looks to me like Listerine breath strips, but it’s a communicator.
Man: Of course I disguise it to look like that.
Scott Aukerman: Oh, OK.
Man: Hey, guys, call off the attack on the Earth.
Scott Aukerman: I’m essentially playing kind of a buffoon who doesn’t really care about the answer, much like yourselves, presumably.
I don’t know whether that’s because that’s my real feelings about when I’m talking to people, or whether I just think it’s more entertaining. But I do think it’s more entertaining.
My name is Scott Aukerman, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on my life in comedy.
Judy Woodruff: You have got to love it.
And you can find more episodes of our Brief But Spectacular series at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.