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Obama: Funny, Clever, Neither or Both?

17/03/2014 21:45 GMT | Updated 14/05/2014 10:59 BST

When was the last time US President Barack Obama made us laugh? Was it when they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize even though he's known to be the man behind drone warfare? Or was it recently when he, the commander-in-chief of an army who's still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost imposed trade bans on Russia for attempting to invade another country?

While the aforementioned incidents might invoke cynical laughs, we cannot forget that Obama is still the man who called Kanye West a "jackass" when the RnB artist interrupted Taylor Swift's speech at the MTV awards. Barring his "Yes We Can" motto during the 2008 elections, his rebuke of Kanye West is the one other time the internet nodded in agreement.

But recently, Obama made headlines (that's something US Presidents do quite often) again for appearing in Funny or Die's web-seriesBetween Two Ferns which is hosted by comedian Zack Galifianakis. So, the next time someone asks "what's common between Justin Bieber, Bruce Willis, Bradley Cooper and Barack Obama?" we'll know what to say.

While people such as Bill O'Reilly think that it's very unprofessional of the POTUS to appear on a comedy show, (that's okay; the internet doesn't really care about what O'Reilly thinks) Obama's main agenda for being on the show was to connect with young Americans and sell the Obamacare idea. After all, if only baby boomers and other old people subscribed to the healthcare then there would be nobody to actually fund the plan without much need for the government to pay for their health.

So, when the right wingers are trying to tell the world that the appearance was "un-president-like", the joke's on them, because from a monetary point of view, this appearance of his is perhaps the best push Obamacare needed. Tara McGuinness, the White House communications advisor tweeted "FunnyOrDie.com is the #1 source of referrals to HealthCare.gov right now." If that's true, then funny or not, Obama's presence was definitely a success.

But then, if we strictly approach it from a comedic perspective, his appearance was, for lack of a better word, awkward. The obviously scripted (read - examined by the White House) lines could have used some better comic timing. Zack Galifianakis is known to be a funny person. He has a successful stand-up comedy life and he's also hit it big time in Hollywood, thanks to his portrayal of Alan in the Hangover series of comedy films. Speaking of which, one of the mildly high points of humor in the talk show was when Obama landed a jab by saying a third term as President wouldn't be as bad as the third Hangover movie.

Now, coming back to the core question - Is Obama a funny guy? Well it depends, doesn't it? On whether we're laughing with him or at him. Because if it's the latter, his predecessor Bush takes the cake. The Arab footwear industry probably started a whole new aerodynamic range just because one of them decided to fling a shoe at him. And Bush indulged the thrower too with a "bring it on" gesture.

Obama's definitely funnier than his Russian counterpart Putin, who has the same expression whether he's in diplomatic meet, counter Chechen rebels, reacting to Pussy Riot songs or posing topless on a horse. And surely Obama's funnier than the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, but then so is anybody who's ever spoken. The Indian leader is an icon of silence in his country's pop culture scene.

The point is, while Between Two Ferns is supposed to be a funny show, Obama's appearance was more of a "plug" for Obamacare, and he was successful at getting that part of the job done.