When interviews are being taped for “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” one might think that the guests will have a hard time keeping a straight face, but Scott Aukerman reveals that it’s actually the host who has a tough time not laughing. “Actually Zach Galifianakis is the worst offender when it comes to that,” confesses Aukerman in our recent webchat (watch the video above). It’s been enough of a problem that Aukerman had to make sure Galifianakis knew that it could hamper production on the Netflix movie version of the beloved segment. “I had to have a talk with Zach and say, ‘Hey, we’re a little under the gun with the resources and time we have to shoot this movie. You really need to stay in character as much as possible.’”
“Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” is one of the most unique interview segments around. First released in 2008, it was originally filmed as a segment for a sketch show. The show has since hosted a number of notable guests including Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and former President Barack Obama. This year the program is up for Best Short Form Variety Series for the series, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie, Sorta Uncut Interviews,” featuring extended interviews that had originally been filmed as stand alone episodes but clips of which were used in the film. Auckerman, who serves as the director/producer of the show, as well as a co-writer, has won two Emmys for the program in the Short-Format Live-Action Program category in 2014 and 2015.
While most celebrities are familiar with what they’re getting into when they sit down with Galifianakis, Aukerman remembers the interview with Penn made the host a little uncomfortable. “He wanted to do it. What I think he was unprepared for was that for that particular episode, Zach shaved off his beard and was playing his twin brother, ‘Seth Galifianakis.’” The interview became very tense, which Aukerman really loved, but it soon became a bit too much for Galifianakis. “Zach felt very intimidated by that and came up to me and said, ‘Hey, we’re stopping the interview now,’ and we cut it short.”
Aukerman’s first Emmy nomination came in 1999 (Variety Writing for “Mr. Show with Bob and David”) and he remembers the intense emotions he went through during that ceremony. “When you’re sitting in that crowd, it does a number on you psychologically where you start to think, ‘I could win, couldn’t I?’” When his category came up, he remembers the adrenaline rush and quickly thinking of something to say if he had to get on stage. “The high is so high leading up to them announcing the winner and the low is so low, because you crash so hard when you don’t win. That happened to me a couple of times.”
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