Humor in Hindsight: Zach Galifianakis and his twin in “Live at the Purple Onion” and “Between Two Ferns”

For my latest Humor in Hindsight column for Decider, I took a look back at how Zach Galifianakis has perfected the art of playing himself opposite his own self.

Sure, you can see Galifianakis pull off this feat weekly on FX’s Baskets, which just returned in January for its third season, now with Chip and Dale Baskets helping their mom Christine (Louie Anderson) run the local rodeo in Bakersfield, Calif.

But this is old cowboy hat for Zach.

He and his “identical twin brother” Seth have shown up before, not only on an episode of his Emmy-winning web series, Between Two Ferns, but also before that, on the very first Netflix comedy special in 2006 — back when they were just on DVDs — Live at the Purple Onion.

That point, too, is fascinating. Netflix is so dominant in producing original stand-up comedy now, we’ve all pretty much forgotten how long they’ve been interested in it. Red Envelope Entertainment: A Netflix Company produced Live at the Purple Onion, with Ted Sarandos executive producing alongside Galifianakis, and Reed Hastings thanked in the end credits. And more notably, Netflix execs are sitting up front at the comedian’s taping, wearing Netflix gear and provoking interactions.

Read my full column on Decider.

But you can see the evolution of his twin act, in three parts. Let’s go backward in time, shall we? (The Sean Penn episode of Between Two Ferns)


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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