Inside Funny or Die and Billy Eichner's plan to 'Glam Up The Midterms'

Washington (CNN)For years, comedian Billy Eichner has been known for screaming at people about pop culture on the streets of New York for his show "Billy on the Street."

Now, he wants to yell at people about something else: politics.
"I've been shouting about silly things -- actors, Oscars, thing I've always cared about," he told CNN in a recent interview. "But I want to use my voice to shout at people about more significant things."
Enter Funny or Die -- Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's 11-year-old comedy website that is home to viral videos including Zach Galifianakis' show "Between Two Ferns" (which famously had former President Barack Obama on as a guest in 2014). Eichner has a history with the digital comedy brand, which helped launch "Billy on the Street" and subsequently elevated his career.
    So it came as no surprise in February of this year when the website announced it is partnering with Eichner yet again. This time for "Glam Up The Midterms," an effort to bring awareness to voting in the midterm elections across the country.
    "Get ready for the hottest event of the year," Eichner says in the promo video. "No, it's not the Grammys, the Oscars, or the Golden Globes. It's the 2018 midterm elections."
    As November approaches, Eichner's mission is to reach as many people across the US as possible, one event at a time -- with help from celebrities (such as Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver and Chelsea Handler) and people Eichner described as "hometown heroes," local activists and leaders from across the US.
    Funny or Die kicked off its midterms initiative with two events in California: one in April in San Diego, featuring Ron Burgundy, Ferrell's infamous "Anchorman" character; and one in May in Los Angeles, at RuPaul's annual "DragCon."
    The plan is to hit the road this summer, and go to districts with the most competitive races to encourage people from both sides of the aisle to get to the polls.
    "I wanted to take something that feels like or sounds like a chore or a test you take in school -- the midterms -- and turn it into people and make it something hot, the sexiest event of the year," Eichner said. "That's a joke, obviously -- but that's our way with having fun of what can be traditionally a very dry, chore-like process."

    Inspired by a tweet

    Eichner said he found himself becoming more vocal in the aftermath of the 2016 election.
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    "As horrendous as I knew Trump would be, what's truly remarkable is that he's somehow worse than I thought," Eichner tweeted in March of 2017, one of many of his tweets criticizing the President.
    Ironically, it was a tweet from President Donald Trump that inspired Eichner's idea to launch a political initiative.
    "I honestly do not recall exactly what tweet it was because there were so many tweets to make you angry," Eichner said. "But in that moment [in the summer of 2017], I called Mike Farah, the CEO of Funny or Die. I said, 'I think we should join forces and do something related to upcoming midterm elections, because all the tweeting and marching is great and nothing really means as much as voting, in terms of trying to get the country back on track.'"
    Then the brainstorming began.

    Funny or Die's political aspirations

    Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns" in 2014 wasn't the first time Funny or Die had ventured into politics.
    In 2008, the site debuted "Prop 8 -- The Musical," starring Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Margaret Cho and others, which poked fun at the California ballot initiative that prohibited gay marriage.
    A few years later, in 2013, Funny or Die enlisted the help of Alyssa Milano to make a "sextape," which was actually a video created to educate the public about chemical attacks happening in Syria.
    However, following the viral success of Obama and Galifianakis' interview, it became apparent to executives at Funny or Die that politically geared comedy videos have a place on the internet, and that politicians could benefit from doing this type of content, too.
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    "When that episode of 'Between Two Ferns' came out, it was a huge game changer on both sides. We realized we could be doing this kind of stuff all the time," Brad Jenkins, an Obama administration alum who was poached by Funny or Die in 2015, told CNN. "We could be working with nonprofits, foundations, political campaigns, institutions ... and the best comedy writers in the country."
    Funny or Die hired Jenkins, who served as associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, in hopes of building the company's brand in Washington. In 2016, the company also brought on D