The 10 Most Memorable “Between Two Ferns” Episodes
Ranking all the times Zach Galifianakis antagonized hot/wealthy people.
On the low–production value talk show, host Galifianakis (can you spell his name without Googling it? I can’t either) sat down with famous people in chairs placed uncomfortably close to a pair of large ferns and pretended to offend them (the celebs, not the ferns); the celebs, in turn, took passive-aggressive jabs back at Zach. It got ugly and personal. Unlike amateur hour at SNL, no one ever broke character or so much as cracked a smile.
To celebrate the forthcoming film, we’ve ranked the show’s most memorable episodes. Happy ferning.
10. Bruce Willis
The majority of Two Ferns is improvised, allegedly, thus poor Bruce Willis is clearly not the fastest on his feet. He sits stone-faced whilst Zach nails him with a couple stings worth remembering: first, he takes a dig at Willis’ penchant for starring in bad movies (“did you know that some actors turn down roles?”) and second, brings up ex-wife Demi Moore, who notoriously married Ashton Kutcher post-Bruce—a dude sixteen years her junior. “How many kids do you have?” Zach asks. “Which is your favorite? Ashton?”
9. Natalie Portman
Like David Letterman before him, Zach relentlessly hits on the very beautiful Natalie Portman throughout the course of this interview. Unlike with Letterman, she’s not into it. Galifianakis asks for her number, then asks whether she shaved her genitals in addition to her head on V for Vendetta. The best part is Natalie’s dog Wizz, who joins her for the show and flops down in front of them, belly up. “I got a bigger dick than that,” Zach tells the dog defensively.
8. Justin Bieber
Akin to Bruce Willis, Justin Bieber is not a comedy man. The improv here leaves something to be desired on Bieber’s end, rendering this episode a little…empty. But it still makes the list, because Zach at one point takes off his belt and whips JB with it, frustrated by his antics and insolence. It’s cathartic.
7. Jon Hamm
Fresh on the Mad Men circuit at the time, Jon Hamm confirms that he won a recent Golden Globe award when Zach inquires. “Mark that under ‘who gives a shit,’” Galifianakis mutters, scribbling something down on a notepad. Later on, Zach does four enormous sneezes, drawing closer to Hamm’s crotch with every convincing exhalation. (“I’m allergic to ferns,” he deadpans.)
6. President Barack Obama
Back in the simpler days of 2014, our patient president sat down with Zach to mock his host’s weight (implying that he’ll be sad about the annually pardoned Thanksgiving turkey because he won’t be able to eat it) and diss The Hangover series. In turn, Zach insults the president’s basketball moves and refers to his home country as “Kenya.” But all the petty hurled barbs are worth it, because the president went on to promote Obamacare, which in turn drove numerous health insurance sign-ups on the site.
5. Bradley Cooper
In 2010, a considerably more fresh-faced Bradley Cooper (as opposed to his grizzled A Star Is Born persona) spoke with Zach, who held up a copy of BCoops on the cover of Details (a magazine that’s since shuttered). He pretends not to be familiar with Cooper’s work—his latest then was Wedding Crashers—despite the two appearing in Hangover together. Things escalate, and they start slapping the shit out of each other. Also, the ferns in this episode are noticeably dead.
4. Steve Carell
It’s enjoyable to see noted Nice Guy Steve Carell play mean. He arrives on the offensive, attempting to outsmart his snarky interviewer. In keeping with a frequent theme, the guest goes for Zach’s weight: “I hear your last name used to be even longer, but you ate all the other letters,” Carell tells him (Zach begins to cry). Ever trying to get the jump on Galifianakis’ jokes, when asked what movie he’s proudest of, Carell yells “Evan Almighty, of course. Fuck you!”
3. Brad Pitt
Here, Zach points to the bitter truth about hearing celebs speak on their charity work: it’s boring. Yes, it’s the best thing they could do with their money and power—but it doesn’t make for spirited talk show conversation. So when Brad goes on about philanthropy, Galifianakis calls in Louis C.K. to do some improv and liven things up (he wouldn’t be my first choice today, but these were different times). At one point, Brad coughs and gum flies out of his mouth; without missing a beat, Zach picks it up and puts it in his own. But then Brad decides he wants it back. What ultimately transpires with that gum, well—you’ll have to watch and find out.
2. Michael Cera
This is the very first episode of the series, from way back in 2010 (with very shitty video quality). Zach chose wisely for his inaugural guest: the most benign, awkward, and enigmatic fellow alive, Michael Cera. The actor says his brother’s been sick and thus he’s been home for a while, a story which Zach interrupts to ask if he’s ticklish. He proceeds to poke and prod Cera, then tries to force the gentle dude to tickle him on his inner thigh, pulling the poor guy’s trembling hand closer and closer whilst Cera emits a desperate squeak of protest. That’s it. That’s the interview.
1. Hillary Clinton
A huge get for Galifianakis: Hillary in September 2016, less than two months before the election. He begins with an epic Obama diss that weaves in an unexpected direction: “As secretary, how did President Obama like this coffee?” he asks her. “Like himself? Weak?” Unfortunately, this video may have helped seal the deal for Trump’s triumph, as Galifianakis trolled Hillary on the issues (“You were saying before we were rolling that you wanted to take away everyone’s guns?”) and interrupted the broadcast with a Trump campaign ad, which Hillary deemed inappropriate. It’s also an eerily prophetic interview: “Don’t tell me what to say,” Hillary snaps at him, to which Zach replies, “Fine, lose. The country goes to shit.” Little did he know.
Still, this deserves the superlative spot because in addition to zinging Hillary better than anyone else—“We should stay in touch,” Zach quips. “What’s the best way to reach you? Email?”—it’s also an interview that humanizes Hillary better than most. She seems funny, like she can take a joke. Lots of people thought she wasn’t, and couldn’t. And if more people watched this instead of Fox News, she probably would’ve won.*
*jk, she did.