Why nobody is safe from Samantha Bee’s late-night satiric venom

Bee: He [Trump] is changing the world. We’re just trying to respond authentically to the things that are really bothering us. I think that’s true for all of us. I just think that Canada feels like it doesn’t need too much help right now, it feels like it’s in a good place. So I guess it depends on the show and it really depends on the issue. Certainly we’re not going to shy away from talking about people just because we may admire them. I feel like that’s a pretty heavy yoke to wear around your neck when you’re trying to make a show that’s funny with already-challenging material. (Brent N. Q: As a Canadian who’s also American now living [in the U.S.] and raising your kids here, how has your life changed under Donald Trump? Oh, look at her boring stable leadership. When you’re doing something because you love it — and you do standup because you love it — that’s the one thing you really just can’t change. Bee: Definitely, I think that’s true for every single person who works here. Q: It does seem like outrage is a big part of what fuels your comedy. And so I think it’s a natural outcropping of that. I wouldn’t say that about us or myself. Bee: Yeah, you do. In 2013, Bee was named Canadian comedy person of the year. I love the people. But not really in the comedy world, per se. I just feel like I want to, because these are the stories that are interesting to us. We’ve done probably more on it than other shows have, because it is the world that we inhabit and these stories are important to us. My children were born here. That’s not what I want, and that’s not what I want to do. Certainly I think the world would be much more stable place, so perhaps there would be weeks where we would think, ‘My goodness, what could we even possibly tell this week, nothing much is happening. Her comedic voice has thrived in recent months, described as more outrage than funny in the era of Trump. Bee: Oh my God, of course. That’s what’s “you” … nurture that against all odds. The politics of Donald Trump and explosive issues like sexual misconduct have changed the tone of late-night shows, and Samantha Bee is gleefully injecting her own style of satiric venom. Releasing your taxes. Without great journalism we couldn’t make the show that we’re making. The shows are really a completely collaborative experience, and our shared outrage is what fuels the whole show. Yeah, that’s just a nice thing, that was just a nice gesture that is required of no one. Who knew. Bee instead hosted a ‘Not the White House Correspondents Dinner’ without him. … It’s not really what people want any more, for you to go up and do monologue jokes about celebrity antics. Q: I would imagine you still want to respect the Oval Office, democracy, all those things, and I wonder if sometimes you say, ‘I shouldn’t say that about this guy. I would imagine that there could be less material to work with, to some degree. Q: But you have to be a bit fearless. Clarke/Invision/AP)

Q: Do you feel that because you’re a woman too, you have to give voice to that in a different way? I think we would be doing the same basic job if Hillary Clinton was president. Bee: I don’t think that my job has changed. You do for sure. It’s more that it feels like there’s just an urgency in the air. Bee: Well, it’s not a slam for the sake of slamming. So we’ll see how that pans out, but as long as we have it I’m going to feel very free to say things that I want to say. So we do pay attention to the news — if we’re kind of reassembling it for people in a more palatable way or we’re providing more analysis, that’s a service we’re happy to provide. Watch the interview: 

Samantha Bee on Trump: He’s been such a disgrace to the Oval Office12:01

Excerpts from Rosemary Barton’s interview with Samantha Bee:
Q: I know some people who watch your show and The Daily Show, and that’s all they do — that’s where they get their news. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TBS)

Q: It sounds like journalism, in some ways. I think we’re not so self-conscious about it. have you ever changed your voice to accommodate someone else?’

And Juliana Rodriguez asks, ‘How do you continue to find your voice in such a male-dominated industry, and navigate your way through issues and connect to women in a way that would be different from a male talk show host?’

Bee: Well, I don’t come from the stand-up world for sure, but they should never change their [artistic voice]. And I think that’s effective. I like where I live. I love my life. She says that doing political commentary with a comedic spin requires her team to be ‘fearless.’ ( Jason Kempin/Getty Images for TBS)

Q: As a female comedian growing up, did you ever encounter that kind of stuff, this inappropriate sexual behaviour? What gives me strength is that the people in my world aren’t interested in fripperies. I think the thing that has emerged that is good is that people are aware of the world that they live in. Bee, born in Canada but now living in the U.S., made regular appearances on The Daily Show before landing her own program. Bee: I don’t feel like I have to. She would have been an imperfect leader as well, in a different way. I mean, the last time I checked we had free speech here. I think even the kids feel that, listening to the news all the time. Bee: Yeah, I think it does. It’s really hard to do. Samantha Bee discusses respect and the Oval Office0:47

Q: You’re an American citizen, but do you feel that also being Canadian maybe gives you a different ability [to speak about U.S. But I actually think that the Oval Office needs to work a little harder for my respect. … I honestly feel that he [Trump] has been such a disgrace to the office that I actually have no reticence whatsoever to speak truthfully about it. Bee speaks onstage during the TBS Comedy Festival 2017 in New York City. Where is the comedy?’

But it would be nice to struggle for a story to tell for once … ‘… I think that people are more aware of the handshake agreements we’ve all been living with for so long that we thought were rules for things and really weren’t. 
Turns out that you [as president] don’t have to divest yourself of all of your hotels and businesses. I don’t automatically give it over any more. Makes the bitter pill more easy to go down. I mean, there’s probably a huge group of people who do want that, and they have that if that’s what they want. I like my house.  We make a point with the show and it’s very curated. You’re obviously trying to make them laugh about it, but what else are you trying to do? But if it’s what’s happening and if it’s current and it makes sense to talk about, then we have an obligation to do that. He did get duly elected.’

Bee: I used to feel that way. Bee and her Full Frontal team won the 2017 Emmy Award for outstanding writing for a variety special. But there would still be lots of stories to tell, because I don’t actually think that she is the Messiah. I mean, I really do. Bee: It is definitely something we think about as it evolves, just like anybody else. And similarly obsessed with comedy. politics]? Bee says she has stayed true to her artistic voice, and urges up-and-coming comedians to do the same if pressured to change. Q: There’s all the sexual misconduct stuff in the news — every day there’s another name. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

Q: When you see a colleague like Jimmy Kimmel come out with his baby and make a plea about health care at the beginning of a comedy show, I mean, in some ways Trump must have changed these shows because it’s so stunning that [Kimmel]
would do that. Bee: I love living here. Turns out that’s not really a rule, that was just a thing that we thought that everyone would do because it was the right thing to do. For sure, it’s really hard to do, but … you have to let that little fire burn forever. Bee also had some advice for two young women in Toronto trying to make their way in stand-up comedy. It’s always more complicated, if you admire a person greatly, to speak about them. Rosemary Barton, co-host of CBC’s The National, caught up with Bee in her midtown Manhattan office recently to discuss finding humour in topics like Trump’s presidency and sexual harassment in the workplace. This place … could use a little more attention. Is there ever a moment where you’re not so keen on being here? In 2017, President Donald Trump refused to attend the traditional White House Correspondents Dinner. ‘The shows are really a completely collaborative experience, and our shared outrage is what fuels the whole show,’ Bee tells Barton. Everyone here is fearless. (Frederick M. (CBC)

Q: You guys have been called sort of the resistance movement in the U.S. Bee: It seems so stable, like a very stable utopia. He is literally changing the world that we live in. It [Trump’s presidency] doesn’t change our life on a day to day basis. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Q: What do you think about Canada these days? I like my kids’ school. My whole family’s back in Canada so I’m totally aware of what’s going on there, but I’ve invested in this place. Bee: If people in the world want to say that, that’s fine. ‘The last time I checked we had free speech here,’ Bee says. It’s just a part of our life, but it’s not changing how we do things … Brown/Getty Images)

Q: We went to Yuk Yuks in Toronto and there were young comedians who had similar questions for you. Hannah Lawrence asks, ‘How do you stay true to your voice in a world that’s always trying to get you to change … They care about the world. Bee: Well, we are vampires of the news. (Carmen Merrifield/CBC)

Q: So when you’re out there slamming people, even some people that you know, what are you trying to tell the audience? It’s not that I don’t care about what happens in Canada. As long as we have it, I’m going to feel very free to say things that I want to say.’ (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Q: How do you think your work has changed since Donald Trump became president? You have to be true to the kernel and the nut and the reason why you’re doing it in the first place. Many of the people who work on Full Frontal are former journalists who excel at finding humour in the news, according to Bee. … You cannot give a single sh-t what anybody else says about your “voice.” You just can’t, because the one thing they cannot take away from you is your talent. Our two worlds are converging nicely. I care about what happens here. Tell me how that’s motivating you, these stories. I absolutely do. More in the restaurant world and in the world in general — you know, the world at large … I couldn’t name a single woman I’ve ever spoken to who hasn’t encountered it in her life. I’m a dual citizen, but I do have that millimetre of separation. The Toronto native now lives in New York and hosts Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. Bee: Well, a lot of people here [at the show] are journalists or come from a journalism background, and I think that we’re all here together because we are obsessed with the news.