Hillary Clinton surprised the internet yesterday with her appearance on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, but it’s not the first time she’s proven she can hold her own sitting across from someone who just wanted to get a laugh out of his audience.
The appearance reminded me of the first time she sat down with David Letterman on camera. A little before she declared her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and toward the end of her husband’s presidency, she appeared on the Late Show. Thanks to the power (and indifference to copyright) of YouTube, we were able to find a digitized (unlicensed) version on YouTube.
Early on in the interview, Letterman asked what it’s like with everyone knowing where her family’s new home is in Westchester, driving by and honking their horns. She answered, “Was that you?”
Later in the video, Letterman recalls a time when he met the first couple. He says, “Your husband seemed a little standoffish. I had a sense that night that your husband regards me as a boob. I just had that sense.”
“No, no, I don’t think it’s that at all,” she replies, “I think he was just so curious why you’d never made a joke about him.”
Letterman’s style and Galifianakis’ couldn’t be more different, but she handles both with aplomb. She also knows how to play along, making her own jokes, without trying to outdo the actual comedian in the conversation.
Nevertheless, comical organizations love to skewer Clinton’s sometimes overly professional demeanor. Here’s a couple examples from this campaign: Saturday Night Live parodied her woodenness in a faux making-of announcement video for her and The Onion did a satirical column under her byline, entitled “I Am Fun.”
But the internet has evidence that—when the occasion calls for it—the Democratic nominee for president knows how to have a good time.