Liberal Column

Hillary Clinton plays it safe, effective on ‘Between Two Ferns’

/ The Daily Orange

Hillary Clinton will never be the cool and casual politician that President Barack Obama is. For all the seemingly scripted nature of all politicians, their private personality is never far from the surface and Clinton isn’t one to wear her heart on her sleeve.

But in an episode of Funny or Die’s video series “Between Two Ferns” published on Thursday,  we get an authentic, humanized look at Clinton — beyond what the media deems her cold exterior.

Hosted by Zach Galifianakis, the series gets its humor from awkward silences with celebrity guests like Justin Bieber, Jon Stewart and Richard Branson. The premise of the comedy interview worked well in Clinton’s favor, as the purposeful awkwardness doesn’t force the Democratic candidate to stray far from her naturally reserved personality.

Clinton has been the subject of much scrutiny: if nothing else, she has been attacked for her lack of openness throughout her presidential run. Moves such as neglecting to hold a single press conference for much of 2016 and refusing to release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches have not sat well with voters.  

As of late, Clinton has been working to shed this closed-in characterization of herself. But unlike her Humans of New York where she spoke candidly about the challenges of being a woman in law school, the “Between Two Ferns” interview gave her a chance to show a lighter side of herself.

Galifianakis balances out the jabs to Clinton and to rival Donald Trump. He cracks jokes at Trump’s expense, such as him replacing his red power tie for the first debate with a “white power” tie. He points out the absurdity of the claims of Clinton’s detractors. Galifianakis accuses Clinton of saying she wanted “to take away everyone’s guns” before the cameras started rolling.

But Clinton also faces heat, with Galifianakis’s parting words of “What’s the best way to reach you, email?” Following that, he plays the AOL “You’ve got mail!” sound bite. Clinton handles Galifianakis’ jokes about being the first woman president and the public’s misogynistic stereotypes well. She takes them with a cool, sarcastic grace where Trump probably would have responded harshly.

And while Clinton doesn’t make any jokes of her own in the piece, her disappointed glances toward Galifianakis get the job done on their own. Even with Clinton as the butt of some jokes, the humor manages to represent the wide the gulf between the candidates in their triumphs and failures.

Taking cues from the success of Obama, who had his own episode of “Between Two Ferns,” appearances like this are an effective way for her to be seen as much as a human being as a career politician. Letting others do the heavy lifting in terms of comedy — while still being on the inside of the joke — is a safe yet beneficial tactic that can help her image in the long run.

Cole Jermyn is a sophomore environmental resource engineering major and economics minor at SUNY-ESF. He can be reached at and followed on twitter @Cjermyn8.


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