Samantha Bee Interview: ‘Full Frontal’
“This is just a tornado,” describes “Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee about the current news cycle as we build to the 2020 presidential election. She suspects the media hasn’t learned much from how 2016 coverage dangerously skewed the campaign — tons of free airtime for Donald Trump and more ink spilled on email servers than policy — but it’s not necessarily for a lack of trying. Journalists have been struggling to keep up with the deluge of crisis and instability under Trump, and with the next presidential election still more than a year away, “we’re definitely cruising for a bruising.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Bee above.
As you might imagine, framing dire news stories in a half-hour weekly comedy show is an ongoing challenge, but “we try to sprinkle in joy where we can,” Bee says. Recent segments of the show, which is Emmy nominated for Best Variety Talk Series for the third year in a row, highlighted a group of politically engaged first-time voters who carry voter registration forms around with them, and a party on the US-Mexico border where citizens from both nations celebrate their shared community — and nobody brought drugs or rapists or anything.
At the recording of our interview on August 12, the “Full Frontal” team had just begun a much-needed vacation, and Bee will spend it in her native Canada: “I’m going to turn off all my social media … and I’m just going to listen to the call of the loons and let that be my guide. I’ll come back with a big story after vacation about how loons are really pretty and I saw a moose.”
There’s also a big tech endeavor in the works that Bee is looking forward to, coming a year after “Full Frontal” gamified the 2018 midterm elections with its “This is Not a Game” trivia app. She can’t reveal specifics, but they’re inviting the Democratic presidential candidates “to do a really big project with us starting in October … and I think we’re launching it at Comic-Con, so watch for that. It’s very cool, and we’re trying to get them all to be a part of it — whoever’s left.”
When the series returns in September with new episodes it’ll start off “with something really fun, just hitting the election cycle with a bang … so I’m excited about that,” though Bee concedes that “The [election] process is so long, it’s so drawn out and so crazy compared to other countries … Maybe I won’t come back from the lake in Canada.” By the time November 2020 rolls around, the rest of us might like to join her.