‘Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’ head writers Kristen Bartlett and Mike Drucker on adjusting to the pandemic: ‘We got a little weirder’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Life comes at you fast. For Kristen Bartlett and Mike Drucker, who became head writers for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” in February 2020, they thought the year’s biggest challenge would be the presidential campaign. They were expecting “an easy spring, we’ll ease into this in the summer, and then really ramp up in the election,” Drucker remembers. “I think two or three weeks into our job is when [the COVID-19 pandemic] happened.” Now they’re nominated for three Emmys including Best Variety Talk Series and Best Variety Series Writing. Watch our exclusive video interview with Bartlett and Drucker above.

“I was afraid of dying,” Bartlett admits. “We’re in New York City, surrounded by sirens nonstop … I would go to bed every night reading the scariest possible articles about what coronavirus is and what it could do, and how it was inescapable. So I would go to bed with that and then have to wake up in the morning and put on a show.” Drucker was worried about his mental health, so it helped to work on the series from his “very isolated, no-sunlight, one-bedroom apartment … while I was slowly losing my mind.”

Naturally, the show they’ve been making since the pandemic struck is somewhat different from the one they planned on. “I wouldn’t say that we’ve changed our style or where we stand on things, but sometimes we do slightly weirder jokes or we try jokes that make Sam laugh really hard, but they’re not necessarily always audience-pleasers,” Drucker explains. “We got a little weirder, which I kind of like.” Bartlett adds, “At the beginning of the year we wanted to be more experimental, and we talked a lot about that with Sam … I think we were planning for that, and we ended up having to be experimental in a totally different way.”

And to think Bartlett expected that their “biggest stress” for the year would be a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Republican National Convention. Now Drucker feels like, “I would kill to go to Charlotte now. I would kill to go anywhere.”

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