NPR : News

Filed Under:

Obama Turns To Comedians To Promote Health Coverage

Who needs jocks when you've got Jennifer Hudson and Amy Poehler?

That seems to be the message coming out of the White House following a star-studded meeting yesterday led by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Its mission: Figure out how to help promote the Affordable Care Act.

Among those reportedly in attendance: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, Emmy nominee Amy Poehler, actors Michael Cera and Kal Penn, and reps for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, and Bon Jovi.

The goal of the meeting, which featured a drop-by from President Obama himself, was to share ways to get Hollywood's help in reaching out to a younger demographic to sign up for health insurance starting this fall.

This comes less than a month after the NFL rejected the Obama administration's plan to recruit pro football stars in the effort. That came after the GOP's top two senators sent what could be deemed a threatening letter to NFL officials.

"Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of this bill, it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion," wrote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., and GOP Whip John Cornyn of Texas.

Mike Farah, president of the comedy website, told Shots that "I would love nothing more than for them to send us a letter like that."

Farah was at the White House meeting Monday (his first in the actual West Wing, he said) and pronounced it "awesome." He says he finds it odd that senators would "actually send a letter trying to discourage a group from paying attention to a new law."

He said he's personally excited about the impact that FunnyorDie, with its estimated 60 million video views per month, might be able to make in informing its mostly younger audience about the need to sign up for health insurance.

"Kids aren't thinking about health care the way they should," he said. "It should become like safe sex or putting on your seat belt. It's not that big of a deal."

Of course, in the hands of FunnyorDie it's likely to be, well, funny. The writers are known for their topical and sometimes political humor, including (questionably tasteful) 2008 and 2012 get out the vote videos for Obama starring Sarah Silverman.

Farah's on the road this week, but says his writers should get to work next week on their Obamacare videos. He wouldn't disclose any possible stars, but said to expect the first round of health-related humor sometime in mid to late-August.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


No Meekness Here: Meet Rosa Parks, 'Lifelong Freedom Fighter'

As the 60th anniversary of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott approaches, author Jeanne Theoharis says it's time to let go of the image of Rosa Parks as an unassuming accidental activist.

Internet Food Culture Gives Rise To New 'Eatymology'

Internet food culture has brought us new words for nearly every gastronomical condition. The author of "Eatymology," parodist Josh Friedland, discusses "brogurt" with NPR's Rachel Martin.
WAMU 88.5

World Leaders Meet For The UN Climate Change Summit In Paris

World leaders meet for the UN climate change summit in Paris to discuss plans for reducing carbon emissions. What's at stake for the talks, and prospects for a major agreement.


Payoffs For Prediction: Could Markets Help Identify Terrorism Risk?

In a terror prediction market, people would bet real money on the likelihood of attacks. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Stephen Carter about whether such a market could predict — and deter — attacks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.