Irreverent comedy interview shows are difficult to master. The more sarcastic and absurd they are, the better results they yield. But once that absurdity leads to success, once-unwitting celebrity guests become part of the gag. And it’s one of the reasons why Between Two Ferns is taking on a different form altogether.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie will appear on Netflix, September 20th. It’s basically the same premise as the satirical public access show created by Zach Galifinakis, B.J. Porter and Scott Aukerman, but with a backstory.
After nearly killing Matthew McConaughey on the show, Galifinakis and the Between Two Ferns crew “[take] a road trip to complete a series of high-profile celebrity interviews and restore his reputation.” The crew features seasoned comedy pros like Lauren Lapkus and Paul Rust. Based on the trailer, the writing and story seems funny enough (major props to the “I’ve never seen a chicken wear clothes” line). But at its core, Between Two Ferns: The Movie is just a vessel for knocking out a bunch of celebrity interviews at once. And that’s great.
To be clear, Between Two Ferns was terrific. It consistently toed the line between making its celebrity guests uncomfortable and angry. Galinfinakis is a master of quick, irreverent humor, treating some celebrities with reverence and others as obvious foils.
But the show’s final few episodes waded into different territory. In March 2014, then-President Barack Obama appeared on the show to promote Healthcare.gov. Nearly two years later, Hillary Clinton appeared on a special episode during the 2016 presidential race. And while those interviews had their moments (particularly Obama’s), it was harder to disguise their guests, among the most powerful people on earth, as unwitting. A 2018 episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Cardi B was received positively, but despite the starpower the show had clearly lost some of the original awkwardness that made it great.
Turning Between Two Ferns into a movie breathes life back into a legendary comedy brand. And with the feature length format, the show’s celebrity interviews will only feature highlights. Galifinakis and crew will be knocking out interviews with Peter Dinklage, David Letterman, Benedict Cumberbatch and more in a two-hour span.
Even if the actual story stinks, the interviews will make up for it. There’s almost no way the entire movie can be bad, which is surely why Netflix bit. And if the celebrity interviews come through, it might feel like the show’s prime all over again.