In comedy, timing is everything and Samantha Bee’s timing couldn’t be better. Debuting your brand new late-night show in an election year might have made some people a little nauseous. Not Sam, who saw an opportunity, ran with it and became the breakout star (some might say saviour) in the epic quagmire of raw sewage that was 2016. In a little under a year Sam has gone from being just “that blonde lady who used to be on The Daily Show” to being, depending on who you ask, “that shit-stirring liberal harpy who hates all men” or “that shining beacon of blistering wit and ruthless common sense who tolerates BS like Donald Trump tolerates CNN.”
I, obviously, consider her to be the latter. An unapologetic leftie and an even less apologetic feminist, Bee is, with the exception of Chelsea Handler on Netflix, the only woman on late night - a fact that seems surprising until you remember this is President Trump’s America where women are, essentially, second class domestics... I mean, citizens.
But even putting aside her position as the only slice of delicious prosciutto amongst a literal deli counter of chorizo, she’s managed to distinguish herself elsewhere on content and style. Sam is ruthless. She doesn’t play nice and she doesn’t care if you like her. She recently started her second season (fast-tracked from the US and airing on SBS Viceland) by swearing on Beyonce that she would always “Shut down the s**t, hold everyone accountable and rock a f*****g blazer.”
In a time when other late night hosts tousle the hair of the most unqualified Presidential candidate in history, Bee goes for the jugular, turning on its head any traditional ideas about what women in comedy are meant to be. Sam is foul-mouthed in her language, defiant in her politics, a tireless advocate for her sex and self-righteous in her anger. And in 2016, Sam’s wrath, and her determination to stand up for women, was a godsend.
Many women in a traditional male job might be reluctant to narrow their audience by focusing so much content on topics that predominantly affect ladies. Not Bee, who has made a point of addressing issues that exclusively impact women like when she tackled Texas’s draconian abortion laws and when she went after an insane bill which actually legislated vilifying and then ignoring victims of rape in a piece that was so brutal it prompted lawmakers to get the bill abolished. Bee is under no misapprehensions about just how “equal” women are in the US and around the world and it’s become her personal mission to make everyone aware of it. Her candidate may have lost and she may be seriously pissed off about it, but she’s not about to hang up her blazer, tie on an apron instead and put her righteous fury in a drawer for the next four years.
Sam Bee, like pretty much every female celebrity bar Taylor Swift, was at the Women’s March on Washington over the weekend.
But unlike Madonna or Scar Jo she wasn’t there to make a speech or rally the troops. She was there as a citizen who, having been born in Canada, voted in her first election last year and felt sorely let down by her adopted country.
Sam is, in many ways, the embodiment of the spirit of the marches themselves, tackling inequality with poise, determination and with humour. She doesn’t hate men- she’s married to one and gave birth to another- and she doesn’t want to banish masculinity. But she also has zero interest in creating a safe space for blokes feeling threatened by women having a voice. In other words, she’s Donald Trump’s worst nightmare.
It’s not just women’s issues where she’s brilliantly on point. I mean, it’s safe to say that if your politics skew anywhere slightly right of centre, you’re not her target audience. But if you sit anywhere between “sensible moderate” and “bleeding heart leftie”, Bee is your girl. Last year, she travelled to a Jordanian refugee camp and discovered just how impossible it is to seek asylum in the US (and therefore how ridiculous are the fears that refugees are just terrorists in disguise.) She also travelled to Moscow where she discovered evidence linking Russia to US election tampering months before it became widely accepted that Putin’s bare chest and greasy hands were all over US ballot boxes. In between, she skewered Trump supporters and out-of-touch conservative lawmakers and had one of the best moments of the entire election in this brilliant piece satirising conspiracy theories and claiming that Donald Trump couldn’t read.
The point is, Sam Bee is the best and if you’re not watching her then you need to remedy that. And if I haven’t convinced you yet, watch this compilation of all the brutal synonyms for Donald Trump she and her brilliant writing team concocted during the year.
If that doesn’t persuade you that Samantha Bee deserves your time, and your admiration, nothing will.
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS Viceland or you can watch the latest episode On Demand: