Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is giving new life to the late-night circuit not because Bee is a woman in host position typically reserved for men, but because her unapologetic commentary filtered through her laser-specific brand of comedy is finding its own voice among the Trevor Noahs and John Olivers of the news cycle. Having cut her teeth as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bee had an outline of what a show like Full Frontal could be, but now that TBS has given her carte blanche, she’s doing things exactly to her specifications. Bee and Full Frontal head writer Jo Miller explained the thinking behind the show and what it takes to make it into their writer’s room.
My husband I were developing another show called The Detour, so we were well underway with TBS. And then TBS swooped in with an additional offer to do my own show. Nobody could match how excited I was about that. Terrified, yes—but that was what I wanted to do. They trusted us because we’d already been working with them. They liked my work on The Daily Show and I think they trusted that I could take that and translate it to a bigger show.
I had a dress in a test show because I just thought that’s what you did—and it was so uncomfortable. Physically, I was so tight and just so cinched and my high heels kept poking through the floor. My outfit was a disaster. During the next rehearsal I just wore a blazer. A blazer is my life staple. I was just wearing a blazer and running shoes at rehearsal and everyone was like, you seem really comfortable—you wanna wear that on the show, please, because that dress was terrible. Whitney Cummings, the stand-up comic, she was talking about how she dresses for comedy and she considers it to be a sport. And I now completely see that. It feels so sporty to me—the physicality of it is important to me.
MILLER: I’d say our office is very much a female-dominated office—there are tons of men but they also like to sit around and talk about THINX underwear. That piece was written by a guy. So the voice of the men is also very feminist oriented.
BEE: Anything you can do to broaden the point of view of a show, it benefits us all so greatly. When you add people into the mix, you’re always going to benefit from that.
MILLER: Have a point of view. Be a weirdo. And be interested in stuff. I could make 10 funny quips about Trump, which we all could, but I have something burning that I want to say and I have to get my truth out and I want to do it in comedy … also spell check.