Samantha Bee Is Doing “Full Frontal” Her Way

Why dressing for comedy shouldn’t involve dresses and how to write your way into one of the smartest rooms in late-night.

Samantha Bee Is Doing “Full Frontal” Her Way
Writer Jo Miller and TV Host Samantha Bee speak on stage during panel discussion for Tribeca Tune In: Full Frontal With Samanta Bee at SVA Theatre [Photo: Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival]

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.


Why Bee Turned Down the Offer To Take Over The Daily Show

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.

Full Frontal with Samantha BeePhoto: Ali Goldstein, courtesy of TBS

Dressing for the Part

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.

The Gender Divide Comes Together

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.

Writer Jo Miller and TV Host Samantha Bee speak on stage during panel discussion for Tribeca Tune In: Full Frontal With Samanta Bee at SVA TheatrePhoto: Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

How to Make it as a Writer for Full Frontal

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.


About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.