Our national fixation with celebrity and tabloid shenanigans dictates that we love seeing famous people get interviewed. From Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey to Ellen Degeneres and Craig Ferguson, TV talk shows have long been the forum where these encounters take place, distracting us from real problems while also fostering false connectedness with people we otherwise worship as deities.
But times have changed: the odd formalities and stagey-ness of these shows has begun to leave audiences wanting more, or if not, at least wanting something different. Enter the web series, a low budget TV-alternative that generally allows greater creativity, less censorship, and less blatant commitment to preserving corporate and personal celebrity brands.
The main beneficiary of these web shows' proliferation is humor. The comedic freedom the medium fosters can permit innovative transgressions from standard talk show tropes, at times completely divorcing them from celebrity culture altogether. Lines between interviewer, interviewee, fact, and fiction get blurred, even as popular notions of etiquette, personal space, and decorum are challenged or poked fun at.
Plenty of examples exist, but here are some of the best: these are three of the funniest interview programs on the interwebz.
1. "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis"
The thickly-bearded comedian best known as the borderline insane brother-in-law from The Hangover discusses all the important issues with celebs while sitting between two ferns. Often hilarious, rarely less than ridiculously awkward.
2. "Billy Eichner on the Street"
No celebrities here, just the hilarious Billy Eichner rushing at random people on the street and bombarding them with the most absurd questions imaginable. The best part is, he comes off as funny and absolutely insane in equal measure. This show regularly reduced me to tears (of joy!).
One of the most disarming interviewers out there is this strangely garbed but shockingly knowledgeable Canadian uber-geek, whose discussions with famous rappers elicit equal doses of laughter and bafflement from audiences and interviewees alike. Always fun and always insightful.