October 25, 1969– Samantha Bee:
“Americans know Trump is a sexist bigot. They just don’t care. A lot of voters have decided that racism and sexism aren’t great but they’re not a deal-breaker, kind of like a sandwich with too much mayo — they think they can just scrape off the extra white nonsense.”
She is the host of an irascible weekly political-satire show that airs for a half hour every Wednesday night on TBS. Maybe you know it?
Televised outrage at the President and his crew of deplorables has brought a ratings surge to shows such as Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Emmy Award winner John Oliver’s NextWeek Tonight and especially Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. The show’s viewership now averages four million per episode, up 98 percent among adults under 50 since its premiere, which has brought Bee fame, a bigger staff, demands on her time, and an Emmy nomination.
“I think people should maintain their outrage. I’m going to stay hysterical. It’s hard to do, though. And it’s going to be really hard to do when the weather gets warm.”
Bee’s weekly episodes offer her trademark rage and fearless candor. She chases stories that others neglect to cover, both funny ones, like Ivanka Trump’s book, and serious ones, like the current administration’s apparent intent to destroy the planet.
“True to her family’s brand and empire, Ivanka wrote this book largely by taking other people’s work and stamping her name on it.”
I will never shake off her blistering eight-minute monologue about Hillary Clinton delivered just the day before the election in November:
“Evidently, a critical mass of Americans find a normal, center-left policy nerd less likable than a vindictive, pussy-grabbing hate-Zamboni who jokes about killing his enemies.”
Bee was a popular correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for 12 years, the longest-serving regular correspondent on that much-loved show. She created Full Frontal with Jo Miller, a writer on The Daily Show writer who is a Fulbright Scholar with a degree in Medieval Jewish History. The show debuted in February 2016 with Bee the only female hosting a late-night comedy show. She gave her show a more diverse staff than the typical late night comedy show. Bee and her hive spent their first nine months covering the craziest presidential election in U.S. history; a gift to comedy. Like almost everyone I know, Bee thought a Clinton victory was a done deal. Bee:
“Part of what we were all so excited about on November 7 was the prospect of not having to talk about the election anymore. We just thought our world was about to open up. We thought, We’ve crossed this barrier; we’re about to have a female president.”
“The ground is shifting beneath our feet all the time. I crave predictability right now. It’s really sad when you wake up and go, ‘Can’t it just be a boring day?'”
What I appreciate about Full Frontal is that it carefully walks the line between satire and political activism (which is not funny), and that it is fronted by a smart, sassy woman.
Toronto native Bee moved to the U.S. in 2003 to work for The Daily Show. Her husband is actor / comedian Jason Jones, who also has a series on TBS, the truly demented The Detour, which Bee executive produces. They met in the late-1990s while doing regional children’s theater.
The Bee-Joneses live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their three children. In late 2010, during her third pregnancy, Bee joked she and Jones were “just procreating like we’re farmers”.
Bee holds both Canadian and United States citizenship after being naturalized as an American in 2014.
One year into Full Frontal, Time Magazine named Bee one of the 100 Most Influential People In The World. On April 29, Bee hosted a special Not The White House Correspondents’ Dinner which aired on TBS the same evening as the real event, both of which POTUS declined to attend. Bee’s “Nasty Woman Shirt” campaign has raised over one million dollars for Planned Parenthood.
What makes Bee so especially fascinating for me is that she is such an outsider: a Canadian in the USA; a woman with a job traditionally held by men; a comic who has never done stand-up; a political pundit who’s never worked in the newsroom.
Bee names Jon Stewart as one of her major influences, along with Steve Martin, David Letterman, Mary Tyler Moore, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Amy Schumer and especially Joan Rivers. What she admired most about Rivers was her bravery:
“It was astonishing to me the things she would say and get away with. She really went there. And you know what? It didn’t always work for me, but when it did, it so worked.”
I am rather dedicated to her show (and pretty crazy about her husband’s series too). Here are some of her best quips from this year:
“Men broke the country and now you need the ladies to come in and make it all better. No, it’s fine, honey, we’ll do it. You just go back to sleep. We were getting bored just holding down full-time jobs and raising our kids anyway.”
On Harriet Tubman being put on the $20 bill:
“Yes! Finally, a black woman making a white man move to the back. … When we make such a dramatic change to something we have to consider the fragile feelings of white men who tragically appear on only seven out of seven bills currently in production. I hate to break it to you, Sparky, Jackson wasn’t involved in the founding of our country. He was not a founding father. He was a genocidal prick who forced the relocation of nonwhites and fomented populace rebellion… kind of like a Trump with better hair.”
“After a generation spent successfully riling up the base with feverish anti-abortion rhetoric, it’s no surprise that the divisive issue has divided many from their own sanity. Since 1977, self-appointed soldiers of God have visited abortion providers with 185 incidents of arson, 42 bombings, 100 acid attacks, 26 attempted murders, and 11 actual murders. You know, pro-life stuff.”
“America is still a great country and it is still worth fighting for. It has Shonda Rhimes shows and peanut butter and Beyoncé and Lin-Manuel Miranda rap-weeping at awards shows, and it has the beautiful U.S. constitution, which we should probably start teaching in schools. We still get to take pride in the peaceful transfer of power. And if Ms. Rodham’s not in the White House that’s okay — one of those girls is going to be. We still have millions of Nasty Women who aren’t going away, and as long as women over 25 are still allowed on television, I’ll be here, cheering them on.”
On Trump’s win:
“Look, this isn’t good for anyone. Our democracy just hawked up a marmalade hairball with the whole world watching. What we did was the democratic equivalent of installing an above-ground pool. Even if we’re lucky and it doesn’t seep into our foundations, the neighbors will never look at us the same way again. In the coming days people will be looking for someone to blame — the pollsters, the strident feminists, the Democratic Party, a vengeful god. But once you dust for fingerprints, it’s pretty clear who ruined America: white people. I guess ruining Brooklyn was just a dry run.”
Her nicknames for Vagina:
Lady garden. Hoo hoo. Hee hee. Haha. Department of the interior. She who shall not be named. The place where I keep my keys. The chamber of secrets. The envelope, please. FernGully. The canyon of heroes. The arc of the covenant. The velour Bouncy Castle. Mrs. Bojangles. The Hurt Locker. Tavern on the Green. Sam’s Club.