Celebrity vs. celebrity: The conflict that drives American pop culture at its sleaziest. It doesn’t always have to be a low brow bowl of congealed spite and schadenfreude, no matter how many VH1’s Top 70 Celebrity Feuds Originated and Ended at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards specials suck us in. For a few years, Zach Galifianakis’s recurring web series, Between Two Ferns, has been the finest in manufactured celebrity antagonism. The premise is simple, if you don’t know: Galifianakis sits down to interview a celebrity in a makeshift studio (while sitting between two ferns, of course) and throws all sorts of rude questions at him or her, like “When you were making The Whole Ten Yards, were you worried it would be too good?” (Bruce Willis).
It’s been a year since the last installment of Ferns, but in just a few weeks, it will return as a 30-minute Comedy Central special. In Between Two Ferns: A Fairy Tale of New York Galifianakis will sit down with Tina Fey, Jon Stewart and, oddly enough, Sir Richard Branson. There’s no word if it’ll be a recurring Comedy Central series, but obviously, that would be a lot of fun.
For Galifianakis, it’ll be a welcome return to the off-brand comedy that made him such an idiosyncratic voice a few years ago. Not that he hasn’t been funny since breaking with mainstream audiences in The Hangover, but the type of money and recognition he got from those movies swiftly vaulted him up to the level of celebrity that begat roles playing more derivative versions of himself in the Hangover sequels and films like Due Date. Which is his imperative; I mean, we would all be so lucky to make tens of millions of dollars for doing tamer versions of the things we’re good at doing. But human selfishness dictates that we’d like to see more of Galifianakis at his unhinged best, getting in peoples’s faces and coming off mentally stunted in a malevolent way. Ferns will air on May 6 on Comedy Central at 8:30 P.M. EST, so set your DVRs.