Speed Reads


Samantha Bee talks comedy under Trump, rejects the premise she's America's 'smug liberal' problem

On Sunday's State of the Union, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Full Frontal's Samantha Bee about comedy in the age of President Trump. She called doing her show a form of "catharsis," of trying to make sense of Trump's America. But "we always lean in the direction of funny," she said. "When you're doing topical comedy like this, you really are walking a razor's edge, and you don't want to drop over into the activism side of things too often — you don't really want to do that at all. So we always err on the side of comedy and hope that everything works out."

"You have been cited as part — not part of the reason why Hillary lost, but part of the problem, part of liberal America's problem," Tapper said, citing specifically a Ross Douthat column in The New York Times, "Hillary Clinton's Samantha Bee Problem." Bee joked that she's flattered by the attention, but she doesn't see any evidence. "It's one person's opinion, one wonderful chap who I'd love to have on the show," she said.

Tapper pulled back a bit, noting that Bee has touched on the theme in her show, "so remove yourself from it: Does he have a point about 'smug liberals?' I'm not talking about you, but is there a smug-liberal problem?" "I just can't take responsibility for the way the election turned out," Bee said. "Is there a smug liberal problem? I guess, you know, I don't think there is. I do the show for me and for people like me, and I don't care how the rest of the world sees it, quite frankly. ... We make the show for ourselves, we put it out in the world, we birth it, and then the world receives it however they want."

Bee emphatically has no plans to ever run for any office herself, she told Tapper, but if the Democrats decided to run a celebrity in 2020, "I don't know that that solves all the ills of the Democratic Party, but I'm willing to try anything."

Tapper had actually appeared for a short bit half-mocking himself at Bee's "Not The White House Correspondents' Dinner" on Saturday night. You can watch their not-terribly-different comedic interaction below. Peter Weber