Written by Kate McCabe

In The News

Woman of the year: Samantha Bee

Our writers pick the women who rocked their world in 2016. Samantha, we need you, now more than ever, says Kate McCabe.

Photo:TBS.

Not left Bee-hind: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has a merit-based hiring policy for its writers. Photo:TBS.

Thank God Samantha Bee left Canada to come and work in my motherland.

Allow me to try to express how much I love her. Like many Americans, I am still struggling with the results of our most recent election. I have concerns… many, many serious concerns. An avid reader of the news, I’ve found myself backing off the headlines in recent days. The pain is still too fresh.

But I know that I can’t ignore things, not if I want to fully participate in our society. So, I’ve been trying to look for cracks of light. The fact that Samantha Bee will be full-tilt on fire after this diabolical 2016 election is one of the only cheery things I can think of right now. (That, and the fact that Clinton won the actual popular vote.)

I remember when Bee who would become the programme’s longest-running correspondent first appeared on The Daily Show. I felt energised by her voice and an absolute rush whenever one of her segments was featured. I doubt that any segment producer ever had to say, “once more with feeling” to Bee. Her commitment to the bit and any accompanying emotion was beyond compare.

Covering topics like reproductive rights, homosexuality, and racism, she aimed straight for the heart of the progressive movement. The ‘goodbye’ tribute they put together for her when she left TDS in 2015 is a great showcase for any of you readers who may be less familiar with her work:

When Trevor Noah took the reins of TDS, I think it’s fair to say there was a swarm of Bee fans who were disappointed. In truth, Bee left without even waiting to be asked (reportedly, she felt like an offer was NOT in the works). Instead, she went to TBS, a basic cable network in America, which also became home to the latest incarnation of Conan O’Brien’s talk show.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee debuted in 2016, a fizzy Alka-Seltzer dropped into late-night TV’s stale, algae-ridden man-pond (note to self… find better analogy later). Left out of a Vanity Fair late night television feature story, she famously Photoshopped herself into the sausage-party photoshoot.

Samantha Bee as a centaur
Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal channel is one of the only things I subscribe to on YouTube, that and Bad Lip Reading, of course. Her show, while using a by-now familiar template of opinion monologues and investigative pieces, has still managed to feel zingy with every episode.

Part of what makes Bee’s programme so special must simply come down to her dynamic voice. But what also makes the show so wonderfully unique is the make-up of the writers’ room.

Bee developed a blind application process when hiring, even going so far as to design a submission process which would guide those who weren’t already dab hands at submitting writer’s packs with a helpful how-to supplement. She wound up with a 50 percent female, 30 percent non-white writing staff. One could argue this is the only way which would lead to a true meritocracy, as it eliminates the ‘who you know’ element of hiring.

Between her ability to go for the kill on Full Frontal and an anecdote which I recently read in this Rolling Stone article about getting her boyfriend to crush her hand with a boulder, I think Bee is the person I’d most like to travel with during the Zombie Apocalypse… an apocalypse which is more likely now than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Read our contributors’ other picks for women of the year here.

@katemccabesays

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Written by Kate McCabe

Kate McCabe is an American comic living in Manchester. When not gigging as a standup, she improvises with ComedySportz Manchester, and contributes to local TV and radio including The Gay Agenda on Fab Radio.