Samantha Bee is a “Woman on Top”

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Turner / Monica Schipper

Earlier this month I attended the TBS-sponsored panel “Women on Top,” a discussion of how comedy is emerging as a power for change and how specifically Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is channeling this power.  Samantha Bee has managed to harness a rage that many women and men feel about current events, a perspective that women traditionally have not been allowed voice publicly.  Bee said, “Women have always been told that rational thought is the most important – not emotional intelligence.  Full Frontal pierces that and feels intimate and real.”

Arianna Huffington reminded us that comedy as satire has a long historical pedigree – it was the court jester who was allowed to speak truth to power and not be beheaded. Eighteenth century satirist Jonathan Swift called attention to children’s poverty. In other words, according to Huffington, the more outrageous the news, the more necessary satire is.

Bee’s point of view covers both sides of the aisle, though lately it has dealt heavily with the Trump administration.  It has also ranged from examining Puerto Rico’s lack of utilities months after Hurricane Maria to excoriating Eric Scheiderman, a self-professed champion of women who has recently been accused by four ex-girlfriends of violent abuse.

Bee and Full Frontal were the first ones to reach out and support the Time’s Up Oscar campaign. “It was a big statement for women who have made money as objects to take ownership of their physical selves and declare that they were not just clothing hangers,” said Amber Tamblyn.

“Raising money for the legal defense fund is so important. People don’t realize that predators sue you [the victims] into the rest of your life,” added Kara Swisher.

Most of Full Frontal’s pieces include a call to action.  And in the case of Puerto Rico, they took it a step further,  transferring the production of Full Frontal t-shirts to the island in March to support local business.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision. We wanted to make an impact, to leave something behind I guess,” Bee said. All proceeds will go toward the Hispanic Federation’s hurricane relief through the rest of the year.

Huffington concluded that “In this age of noise, you have to cover it relentlessly (Puerto Rico, Flint) in order to break through to the point of action, especially because people get caught up on the latest tweet.  It’s all the same thing on every outlet.  We’re obsessed with easy coverage.  You have to stay in the room.”

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on TBS.

Photo Credit: Margarita Sophia Cortes, MSophia PR


Samantha Bee, Executive Producer & Host, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Amber Tamblyn, Author, Actress & Director

Kara Swisher, Executive Editor of Recode

Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post & Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

Moderated by:

Cynthia Littleton, Managing Editor of Television, Variety

  1. Oh, I would have loved to have been there! Samantha Bee is killing it! And, yes, I bought a t-shirt.

    • busyk said:

      I need to buy a T-shirt, too!

  2. Well, she certainly has people talking this morning! What do you think about the “C” word controversy?

    • busyk said:

      My apologies for the delayed response. I’ve been out of the country so I missed this. Now that I’m caught up, here are my thoughts: while that word is not a part of my everyday lexicon, I am not offended by Samantha Bee’s use of it. Her comedy is based on outrage, and she has used similar language before, so as a fan of the show, it was not surprising. Most upsetting to me is that it has created a distraction from the issue of human rights abuses against immigrant children. People are more upset by the use of the C word than the fact that the US government is ripping children away from their families. IMO, that is where the moral outrage should be focused, not on Bee’s vulgarity in a comedy show.

      • We are in agreement and I hope I conveyed that in my analysis!

  3. What I’m really interested in is the calculation. Why did she choose to use the word? What do you think Busy?

    • busyk said:

      Even more alarming: The White House wanting to cancel Samantha Bee is infringement on the first amendment – it’s akin to government censorship.

      And BTW, Ted Nugent has used the C word in reference to Hillary Clinton many times, and yet he was invited to the White House for a visit.

      • Yes! I do think the TIME cover is brilliant; he thinks he’s a king. Nothing but FOX news…if he could get away with it! Sobering. I did know about Ted Nugget. Grotesque! There’s just soooo much horrible right now! Keep reading, keep writing, keep doing any small thing you can do (I got involved in a club that gives college scholarships to needy women): That’s my motto!

  4. Geez I remember Amber being on Buffy back in the day. Samantha Bee has done some great stuff even if she is not your thing she brings something to the landscape that wasn’t there before. I for one think that’s a great thing.

    • busyk said:

      I’m so admiring of Amber Tamblyn. The more I hear her speak on these issues, the more I am struck with how smart and articulate she is. She is emerging as a real leader of the movement.

      • I wish her the best in making the world a better place and you too.

    • busyk said:

      The word “feckless” is so apt! Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

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