Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

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Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis
Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.png
GenreComedy, talk show
Created by
Directed by
Presented byZach Galifianakis
Theme music composerBernard Hermann
Opening theme"Theme from Taxi Driver (Reprise)"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes22 (and 1 special) (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Mike Farah
  • Scott Aukerman
  • B. J. Porter
  • B. J. Porter
  • Scott Aukerman
  • Christin Trogan
  • Zach Galifianakis
  • Anna Wenger
  • Corinne Eckhart
Production locationsLos Angeles, U.S.
  • Brian Murray
  • Matt Sweeney
  • Matt Krueger
  • Daniel Strange
  • Caleb Emerson
  • Mordecai Druitt
  • Hank Friedmann
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time3–6 minutes
Production companyComedy Bang! Bang!
Original networkFunny or Die
Picture format16:9 HDTV
Original releaseJanuary 4, 2008 (2008-01-04) –

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis is an American talk show hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis which features celebrity guests. Episodes last several minutes, in which the interviewer (Galifianakis) and guests trade barbs and insults. In addition to the online series, there is a Comedy Central television special, and a Netflix original movie Between Two Ferns: The Movie. The series' theme music is Dave Blume's arrangement of Bernard Herrmann's theme from Taxi Driver, which is on the original Taxi Driver soundtrack album but was not included in the film.


As the show's title suggests, host Zach Galifianakis interviews celebrities while sitting between two potted ferns.[1] The set intentionally resembles a low-budget amateur production for public-access television,[1] with on-screen graphics containing deliberate comedic errors. For example, in a 2014 episode, Brad Pitt's name is spelled "Bart Pit" and his film 12 Years a Slave—the winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture—entitled "12 Years a Salve".[2]

Galifianakis maintains a very awkward and often antagonistic demeanor with his guests, asking them bizarre, inappropriate or insulting questions mixed with offhand non-sequiturs. The guests' responses are mostly improvised, despite pre-interviews.[3][4] Episodes often include a segment in which Galifianakis awkwardly interrupts his guests to promote a sponsor's product. Examples include bananas, the video game Need for Speed: Shift, and (most frequently) Speed Stick deodorant. Some advertisements, like the graphics, are based around aspects of or events related to the interviewee. For example, the episode featuring Hillary Clinton included one of Donald Trump's campaign commercials.

History and reception[edit]

United States President Barack Obama being interviewed by Zach Galifianakis for "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis," in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on 24 February 2014.
Barack Obama interviewed on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, 2014

The show originated as a short film on Scott Aukerman and B. J. Porter's Fox sketch pilot The Right Now! Show, a spin-off of their Comedy Death-Ray live show. After the network declined to pick up the show, the duo put the short up on the website Funny Or Die, where it made a successful transition to an internet series.

Discussing the show on ABC News Now, Galifianakis said, "The sycophantic way that Hollywood machine runs – it's fun to make fun of it. That's how Between Two Ferns started." Guests aren't told what will happen in advance, according to Galifianakis, "They agree to come. There is no discussion beforehand...It just happens, no real prep, no organization whatsoever." He continues, "Inappropriateness is really fun to me...That is kind of the take on Between Two Ferns – inappropriate humor."[5]

The Chicago Tribune described it as "surreal improv...a talk show that's more of a charming critique of the faked intimacy of celebrity interviews than a talk show."[6]

A 30-minute television special, Between Two Ferns: A Fairytale of New York, aired on Comedy Central on May 6, 2012. The show featured interviews with Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, and Richard Branson.[7]

The episode featuring President Barack Obama was timed to encourage Americans to sign up for health insurance at became the top referrer to the government site during this time.[8] The September 2013 episode featuring Justin Bieber also received significant media attention. The show opened with Galifianakis telling him, "It's really exciting to talk to you. Especially right in the middle of your public meltdown."[9]

In the 2014 episode featuring Brad Pitt, the actor was referred to as both "Bradley Pitts" and "Bart Pit", and Galifianakis referred to Pitt's latest film, Fury as "Furry", and asked Pitt, "Is it hard for you to maintain a suntan...because you live in your wife's shadow?" Galifianakis also asked Pitt if his relationship with wife, Angelina Jolie, was anything like "Ross and Rachel" from Friends, the show that made a star of Pitt's ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston.[2]

In a January 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, while promoting Baskets, Galifianakis discussed the status of Between Two Ferns, stating: "I don't know what else to do ... [Between Two Ferns has] kind of run its course a bit." Galifianakis also expressed his desire to interview the Pope on the show.[10] Between Two Ferns' first new episode in almost two years aired in September 2016. It featured then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and received over 30 million views in its first 24 hours, the highest viewership in's history.[11]

Between Two Ferns: The Movie, a film adaptation of the show directed by Aukerman and written by Galifianakis and Aukerman, premiered on Netflix on September 20, 2019.[12] Uncut interviews from the film featuring David Letterman, Paul Rudd, Awkwafina, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brie Larson, Keanu Reeves, Hailee Steinfeld, and Adam Scott were released on the Netflix Is A Joke YouTube channel and under the title Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis: The Movie, Sorta Uncut Interviews, which received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series nomination.[13]


No.TitleGuest(s)Directed byOriginal release date
1"Michael Cera"Michael CeraRuben FleischerJanuary 4, 2008 (2008-01-04)
2"Jimmy Kimmel"Jimmy KimmelRuben FleischerApril 17, 2008 (2008-04-17)
3"Jon Hamm"Jon HammDaniel StrangeDecember 12, 2008 (2008-12-12)
4"Natalie Portman"Natalie PortmanDaniel StrangeMay 6, 2009 (2009-05-06)
5"Bradley Cooper"Bradley Cooper and Carrot TopDaniel StrangeMay 25, 2009 (2009-05-25)
6"Charlize Theron"Charlize TheronScott AukermanSeptember 7, 2009 (2009-09-07)
7"Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter"Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter and Andy DickScott AukermanNovember 16, 2009 (2009-11-16)
8"Ben Stiller"Ben StillerDaniel StrangeMarch 16, 2010 (2010-03-16)
9"Steve Carell"Steve CarellB.J. PorterJuly 27, 2010 (2010-07-27)
10"Sean Penn"Sean PennScott AukermanAugust 31, 2010 (2010-08-31)
11"Bruce Willis"Bruce WillisScott AukermanOctober 12, 2010 (2010-10-12)
12"Jennifer Aniston and Tila Tequila"Tila Tequila and Jennifer AnistonB.J. PorterFebruary 8, 2011 (2011-02-08)
13"Will Ferrell and Jon Hamm"Will Ferrell and Jon HammScott AukermanMay 22, 2011 (2011-05-22)
14"Oscar Buzz Edition Part 1"Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Christoph Waltz, Anne Hathaway and Amy AdamsRuben FleischerFebruary 11, 2013 (2013-02-11)
15"Oscar Buzz Edition Part 2"Jessica Chastain, Sally Field, Emmanuel Lewis, and Bradley CooperScott AukermanFebruary 12, 2013 (2013-02-12)
16"James Franco"James Franco, Edward Norton, and The Lonely IslandScott AukermanMay 7, 2013 (2013-05-07)
17"Justin Bieber"Justin BieberScott AukermanSeptember 26, 2013 (2013-09-26)
N–A"Happy Holidays Edition"Tobey Maguire, Samuel L. Jackson, and Arcade FireScott AukermanDecember 18, 2013 (2013-12-18)
18"President Barack Obama"President Barack ObamaScott AukermanMarch 11, 2014 (2014-03-11)
19"Brad Pitt"Brad Pitt and Louis C.K.Scott AukermanOctober 22, 2014 (2014-10-22)
20"Hillary Clinton"Hillary ClintonScott AukermanSeptember 22, 2016 (2016-09-22)
21"Jerry Seinfeld & Cardi B"Jerry Seinfeld, Wayne Knight and Cardi BScott AukermanJune 14, 2018 (2018-06-14)

Special (2012)[edit]

A special episode aired on television on Comedy Central on May 6, 2012.

TitleGuest(s)Directed byOriginal release date
"Between Two Ferns: A Fairytale of New York"Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, and Richard BransonScott AukermanMay 6, 2012 (2012-05-06)


Awards Category Nominee(s) Result
2013 Creative Arts Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program Mike Farah, Scott Aukerman, Zach Galifianakis, B. J. Porter, Anna Wenger, Betsy Koch Nominated[14]
2014 Creative Arts Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program Scott Aukerman, Zach Galifianakis, B. J. Porter, Mike Farah, Sean Boyle, Rachel Goldenberg Won[15]
2015 Creative Arts Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program Mike Farah, Scott Aukerman, Zach Galifianakis, B. J. Porter, Sean Boyle, Michelle Fox Won[16]


  1. ^ a b "Zach and Bruce Willis on Between Two Ferns". TIME. 27 May 2011. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Randee Dawn (October 23, 2014). "6 reasons to watch Brad Pitt and Zach Galifianakis on 'Between Two Ferns'". TODAY Show. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "Is Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis real or staged?".
  4. ^ "How Funny or Die Got President Obama on Zach Galifianakis' 'Between Two Ferns'". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Zach Galifianakis: Comedy's Sensitive, Sarcastic Sensation". ABC News. 6 October 2010.
  6. ^ Christopher Borrelli (4 April 2012). "'Seven Minutes in Heaven': The not-so-fine art of the awkward kiss". Chicago Tribune.
  7. ^ Josh Modell (May 6, 2012). "Between Two Ferns: A Fairytale of New York". The A.V. Club.
  8. ^ Variety
  9. ^ Hillary Busis (September 26, 2013). "'Between Two Ferns': Zach Galifianakis gives Justin Bieber a stern talking to". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  10. ^ Meredith Blake (January 29, 2016). "With movie comedies 'a little bit one-note,' Zach Galifianakis tackles TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  11. ^ "Hillary Clinton's Appearance on 'Between Two Ferns' Breaks Records for Funny or Die (Exclusive)". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  12. ^ Haring, Bruce (May 24, 2019). "'Between Two Ferns: The Movie' With Zach Galifianakis Confirmed, Sets Release Date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  13. ^ Schneider, Michael (2020-07-29). "Emmys Trivia: 18 Surprising, Interesting and Just Odd Facts From 2020's Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  14. ^ "Between Two Ferns". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  15. ^ "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis: Brad Pitt". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved September 13, 2015.

External links[edit]