Hillary Clinton, a candidate who has gone to great lengths to showcase the playful side of her personality, apparently wanted to prove that she can take not only a joke but a full interview of nonstop lampooning when she appeared on the mock celebrity interview show “Between Two Ferns.”
In an election cycle where late night hosts have been criticized for not putting heavy questions to the candidates, “Between Two Ferns” offers a strange alternative.
The show’s host, the comedian Zach Galifianakis, plays so oblivious that the questions he poses often read as nonsensical and offensive. (“What is it like to be the last black president?” Mr. Galifianakis asked President Obama with a straight face in 2014.)
The show has attracted high-profile guests, like Mr. Obama and Brad Pitt, who have willingly signed up to be mocked by Mr. Galifianakis. The results are often very popular on the internet, where Mrs. Clinton has striven to appeal to younger voters who enjoy a well-placed cutting joke.
Her appearance, posted by the site Funny or Die on Thursday, could also be another example of the candidate getting a helping hand from friends in Hollywood.
On Wednesday, an employee of the Clinton campaign tweeted that some members of the cast of “The West Wing,” including Martin Sheen and Allison Janney, would be campaigning for Mrs. Clinton in Ohio. That same day, the director Joss Whedon announced the creation of a super PAC in support of Mrs. Clinton, and kicked it off with a video that featured celebrities including Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr.
But “Between Two Ferns” was not exactly a lovefest. It was more of a weirdfest. Scott Aukerman, who produces the show and directed the episode with Mrs. Clinton, said that the interviews are meant to be a roast of the guest, and that the material was “95 percent improvised.” Mr. Aukerman also said that, while Mr. Obama was informed of the full reach of “Between Two Ferns” at the last minute — by his daughter Malia, no less — Mrs. Clinton had the idea to appear.
“She really set us at ease early on by being so game to do it,” Mr. Aukerman said, “and one of the first few jokes she laughed really loud at, so we had to reset.”
When Mrs. Clinton was first introduced, the words “Had Pneumonia” appeared under her name on screen. “Are you excited to be the first girl president?” Mr. Galifianakis asked. He also wanted to know how fast she could type in her secretary job, ignoring that the job was secretary of state.
Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis: Hillary Clinton
Video by Funny Or Die
While Mr. Obama had playfully laid into Mr. Galifianakis during his 2014 interview — “What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?” — Mrs. Clinton appeared mostly deadpan, letting her host do most of the comedic legwork.
“What happens if you become pregnant?” He asked Mrs. Clinton. “Are we going to be stuck with Tim Kaine for nine months?”
In this case, she had a wry reply: “I could send you some pamphlets that might help you understand.”
The last half of the six-minute show was devoted to her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, with questions that contained pointed jabs at Mr. Trump’s views on minorities. Mrs. Clinton was asked if she would move to Canada or lead the civil war when Mr. Trump becomes president.
After a joke about guns, Mrs. Clinton shook her head and said, “I really regret doing this.”
At one point, she was actually asked a policy question. But while she was explaining her hopes for improving the economy, she was interrupted by a Trump ad.
Mrs. Clinton played along: “Why would you play a commercial from my opponent in the middle of our interview?”
“He paid me in steaks,” he replied, adding a scatological joke. (This is the one that got a loud laugh out of Mrs. Clinton.)
But Mrs. Clinton wasn’t totally off the hook: The interview wrapped up with Mr. Galifianakis asking if the two could stay in touch by email.
Mr. Aukerman, whose other show, “Comedy Bang Bang,” begins its final season on IFC in October, said that there were no plans to interview Mr. Trump: “I think he’d cancel it right away.”