After a day of dutifully answering reporters’ questions about her new TBS show, Full Frontal, Samantha Bee confesses to an urgent desire.
“I want a ponytail so badly. I want my hair out of my face. I want my jeans on and flat shoes,” says Bee, glammed up at the moment in a body-hugging dress and challenging heels.
She’s out of luck. The cheekily titled Full Frontal, a weekly slice of satire that debuted Feb. 8, will keep the former Daily Show correspondent relentlessly on-camera and well-groomed.
In the early going, Bee is flying solo as the host and only field reporter, applying the expertise acquired in a decade-plus on Jon Stewart’s show to issues and events she’s passionate about.
One possibility: a look at the subpar medical service accorded female military veterans.
Other correspondents and guests eventually will join her, says Bee, who’s an executive producer for the show, along with Jason Jones, her husband and former Daily Show colleague.
But for now, the talented comedian and writer will play Queen Bee — a welcome change from most of TV, where guys dominate talk and comedy shows.
Full Frontal will air Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on TBS. Here’s the buzz on what lies ahead for Bee and her show.
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW
“The roots are firmly planted in The Daily Show, but we’re definitely trying to grow from that experience. We’re trying to push forward,” Bee says. “But Jo (Miller, an executive producer) is from there. We worked together for years. The man running the field (reports) department is a close friend, Miles Kahn, who worked for a decade at The Daily Show.”
So topical, sharp-edged observation will rule -— but funny, natch.
“With comedy, you can’t start a piece saying, ‘We’re going to make a change happen, we’re going to change the world with this comedy,’ because then nothing would be funny at all,” she says. “But we’re definitely attracted to stories that … shine a light on something. Somebody should be paying attention to these things.”
NO VISITORS ALLOWED, YET
Guests, celebrity or otherwise, won’t be on hand in the show’s early going.
“To be perfectly honest, we’re not that interested in pop culture stuff … we’re steeped in it like anybody else, but it’s not our particular interest. We’ll almost certainly have guests at some point but we would like to think we could fold them in organically,” she said, then took a beat and added: “I guess if Tom Cruise calls, you really have to put him on the show.”
CAST YOUR VOTE
Will Full Frontal gorge on the presidential election, in grand Daily Show tradition?
“We’ll definitely cover it. We’ll go to the conventions. We’ll just have to. It’s going to get pretty crazy out there, and it already is.”
But while it’s “an interest and a passion” Bee says, it won’t be the whole show.
THAT WORK-FAMILY BALANCE THING
Bee and Jones, the parents of three preteen children, are producing Full Frontal and Detour, a TBS comedy starring Jones that will debut in April. The sitcom was shot last summer in Atlanta, during the kids’ school break, but Full Frontal has to mesh with daily family life.
“Living in New York, we try to keep everything on our side of the island and streamline the process. So when we were looking for a studio space, it was like, ‘Can we just use this one, it’s 20 blocks from my house?’ I can walk to the studio,” Bee says.
Equal division of labor is key.
“My husband’s been really diligent about it. Since I’ve been working on Full Frontal, he’s done all the school concerts, all the potlucks. I make breakfasts and lunches in the morning, he does the (school) drop-offs,” Bee says.
AND FOR THE RECORD…
The premiere of Bee’s show will make her the only woman hosting a late-night show, albeit one not on the Big 4 networks. Why aren’t there other female late-night hosts?
“I don’t really know,” Bee says, “but I think there will be, really darn soon.”