I used to love Between Two Ferns… and always looked forward to new episodes… until today. If you haven’t seen it yet, Zach Galifianakis interviews President Barack Obama who dutifully plugs the Affordable Health Care law.

Actually, I’m conflicted, because I love comedy, I write comedy and I run an online video and social media marketing agency, so I should love the idea that a web series is featuring the President of The United States.

I should also love that they’re doing it for marketing purposes, because that’s exactly what I do… make funny videos for brands, businesses and startups for marketing purposes.

What I don’t like about the video, is that the President is blatantly schilling the Affordable Health Care Act / www.healthcare.gov (yeah, I’ll give it a plug) , and they’re blatantly calling attention to the fact that the President is blatantly schilling healthcare.gov, as part of the gag, as if that would somehow make it more watchable… like everyone is in on the joke.

Throw in a joke about Kenya and the President’s birth certificate, to make Zach seem confrontational and legit, make the President appear to have a great sense of humor about it, give the President a few scathing lines to throw back  at Zach and everyone will watch until the end when he pitches the website.

We even learn that Zach Galifianakis was attacked by spiders, so the President has the opportunity to tell him to go to healthcare.gov. Does anyone really think that:

  1. Mr. Galifianakis doesn’t already have pretty good health insurance
  2. He was really attacked by spiders
  3. Spider attacks are contagious

What I REALLY don’t like is that the video felt uncomfortably scripted. I know the show is supposed to be uncomfortable and awkward, and most episodes are probably at least loosely scripted, but even the “awkward” felt scripted.

That’s because it was heavily scripted. It had to be. You can’t put a sitting president in a room with a comedian and just let the cameras go. Plus, the agenda had to be seamlessly worked into the comedy. They could have done a better job at that.

The only part I laughed at was the reveal at the end, and overall the video was amusing but it was so agenda-driven that it killed it for me.

The real winner here is not President Obama, because I think he looks ridiculous, and not healthcare.gov, although we’ll see how the site visits play out…  but Zach Galifianakis, because his show was just introduced to millions of new viewers who tuned in to see the President and will go back and watch the episodes that were actually funny up until this one.

But the real loser here is also Zach Galifianakis, who may suffer the same repercussions as when your favorite indie band signs with a major label and starts doing Coke ads.

Today is the day Between Two Ferns sold out.

As much as I don’t like the video, I think it’s probably good for the online video and social media marketing industry, but I don’t think  Between two Ferns can ever go back to being what it was.

Maybe I’m just jaded because I see through their attempt to reach a specific audience and I know it’s part of a much larger campaign to get young people on health care to subsidize the larger program, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also smacks of propaganda. Let me know what you think!