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Zach Galifianakis on Hillary Clinton's 'Between Two Ferns' comedy chops and Donald Trump's 'psychosis'

Zach Galifianakis has hosted plenty of big names on his Internet mock talk show “Between Two Ferns,” including Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber and even President Obama. But the episode he released Thursday featuring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has already outperformed them all. 

In its first 24 hours, the video – in which Galifianakis awkwardly asks a deadpan Clinton about such things as whether she has considered being more racist and what will happen if she becomes pregnant while in office – was viewed more than 30 million times, the highest first-day viewership in the history of Funny or Die. 

In an interview on Saturday about his upcoming film comedy “Masterminds,” which opens Sept. 30, Galifianakis took a minute to reflect on his absurdist foray into this equally absurd presidential election.

People who know Clinton talk about how funny she is in private, but the public doesn’t often see that side of her. Were you confident that you’d get something funny out of her?

I’m nervous in those situations because, you know, you don’t know them on a personal level. But I will say she’s very personable in real life. She really is. There was a laugh or two from her – a really big laugh – that we had to edit out because it wasn’t icy enough for us in a weird way for what we were doing.

She was very game, and the fact that she was sick that day – having that knowledge and watching the news when everybody was kind of wondering what was going on, it just kind of makes you laugh. She just had pneumonia. It was not that big a deal. I love that the story became that she had pneumonia versus “Oh, she’s really working hard, even through this.”

But I was very impressed with her. I can’t say that she probably has the same thing to say about me. [Laughs] We chatted about a book I didn’t expect her to know about. We kind of bonded over this book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” [by Neil Postman].

I walked away from that whole interview going, “She’s cool.” I thought she was cool, and I don’t know if that was my impression of her before that.

The episode was mostly improvised. Were you surprised how able she was to handle that kind of improv?

I don’t think you can get as far as she has in American politics without a sense of humor – especially since she’s been so forced to play the boys’ [game], since that’s where the power structure is, though it’s changing. But yeah, she definitely has a sense of humor. For sure.

I saw a few people suggesting you should have somehow gone after her harder. It seems like they were expecting “Between Two Ferns” to suddenly become “Crossfire.”

[Laughs] Exactly. I agree.

So now that we’ve seen how many people have watched this episode, have you been approached by Donald Trump’s campaign wanting to get in on things?

No. That doesn’t interest me. Doing it the other way doesn’t interest me. He’s the kind of guy who likes attention – bad attention or good attention. So you’re dealing with a psychosis there that’s a little weird.

I wouldn’t have somebody on that’s so mentally challenged. I feel like I’d be taking advantage of him. And you can print that.

josh.rottenberg@latimes.com 

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