(Adds comments from Funny or Die)
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, July 22 What's so funny about
President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law?
A website known for viral comedy videos popular with
Americans under 30 - Funny or Die - has a few ideas and is
enlisting celebrities to make something that catches the
attention of a key demographic the White House needs to sign up
"I think you can kind of have fun with some of the
misinformation that's out there," said Mike Farah, president of
production for Funny or Die.
Farah was part of a small group of Hollywood stars and
entertainers who met with senior White House officials on Monday
to talk about how to use pop culture to persuade young Americans
to sign up for new medical insurance coverage this fall.
For Obamacare to succeed, the White House needs to attract
2.7 million younger consumers between the ages of 18 to 35,
mostly male and non-white, to participate in new online health
Obama dropped by the meeting, which included comedian Amy
Poehler, actor Jennifer Hudson, representatives for Oprah
Winfrey and Alicia Keys and others.
"We see that there's an ability here to actually make an
impact and make a change," Farah told Reuters after the meeting
with Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other officials
involved in rolling out the program.
Funny or Die has more than 19 million unique users per month
and 6.4 million Twitter followers and is already working on
several videos featuring celebrities.
Obamacare needs young, healthy people to register for the
new health insurance plans to counterbalance older, sicker
enrollees and hold down costs.
But first the government needs to overcome skepticism that
the new plans are worthwhile.
The government isn't paying for the help. "If there was ever
any money for Funny or Die - which there never was - I'm sure it
would have been cut by the sequester long ago," Farah quipped.
Earlier this year, the administration sought help from major
U.S. sports organizations including the National Football League
on advertising campaigns.
But the NFL backed off after U.S. Senate Republican leader
Mitch McConnell wrote the league and other professional sports
organizations urging them not to support Obamacare, warning them
it was too political.
Farah said he is not worried about any backlash.
"If Republican senators have enough time to write Funny or
Die a letter telling us not to be a part of this, then we're
doing something right," he said.
"I would love that, and I can't wait to frame it and put it
up in my office."
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)