Then there are the quieter comedians. The subtler sort. Zach Galifianakis belongs to that camp, a dollop of a man who lives in fuzzy sweaters and a bushy beard, who speaks in monotone deadpan and seems much more suited to the North Carolina woods than to New York, Los Angeles or any comedy-centric city.
But a country bumpkin Galifianakis is not. Nor is he the socially awkward mess that stole the show in last summer's box office winner, "The Hangover." (Of Alan, the wolf pack herder and soon-to-be brother-in-law of Justin Bartha's Doug, Galifianakis said, "That character is a very big moron.")
He's got a wider range of movies under his belt now -- last year's "Up in the Air," this year's "Dinner for Schmucks," this week's "It's Kind of a Funny Story," and the upcoming "Due Date." He also has an out-of the-box celebrity interview series that gets millions of views online -- "Between Two Ferns," part of the Funny or Die network of Internet hilarity. And he's got a bone to pick with Hollywood.
"I think it is somewhat of a fantasy interview for me to be rude to the Hollywood types, which I hold of a certain disdain and egotism," he said in a recent interview with ABC News Now's "Popcorn with Peter Travers." "The sycophantic way that Hollywood machine runs -- it's fun to make fun of it. That's how 'Between Two Ferns' started."
Meant to mimic a cable access show, "Between Two Ferns" books stars mainstream outlets covet, like Sean Penn, Jon Hamm, Natalie Portman and Conan O'Brien. But instead of cooing over his guests, Galifianakis turns the Q&A into a mockery. He asks Hamm: "Is your middle name 'Honey-baked?'" He inquires about what Penn and his good friend Jack Nicholson do: "Where do you guys like to eat? Do y'all go to Long John Silver's or something?"
His proposition to Portman belongs in the dictionary definition of How Not to Conduct an Interview, Ever: "You're an accomplished actress, you've graduated from Harvard, you've done some great international charity work. Uh, what is your phone number?"
Recoiling in horror is routine behavior on Galifianakis' set. (The look of disgust Portman shoots him after he muses, "You shaved your head for 'V for Vendetta' -- did you also shave your V for vagina?" could kill a small animal.)
Some guests fight back. Conan O'Brien sticks up for himself when Galifianakis declares that he would make a better "Tonight Show" host -- that is, until he gets shoved out of his seat in favor of follow-up interviewee Andy Dick. Bradley Cooper starts slapping Galifianakis after he implies that Cooper's just a pretty face.
According to Galifianakis, his guests never know what's coming.
"They sit down, they agree to come. There is no discussion beforehand," he said. "It just happens, no real prep, no organization whatsoever."
The more shocked they seem, the better.