By Sam Kennedy
Comedy is a male-dominated world. Samantha Bee acknowledges that in her very first sketch on her TV show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. In a room full of reporters, she is berated by the journalists asking her every variation of the question, “What’s it like to be a female comedian?” All female comedians will be asked this in some way or form during their career. If they’re lucky, they might even be told, “You’re pretty funny for female comic!”
So Samantha Bee’s answer to these comments? “Witches.” Obviously, that’s how women are able to be funny AND successful. Through demonic ritual, blood sacrifice, and dark magic. There’s just no other answer.
Why is it so absurd for a woman to be successfully funny? Is it really that rare of a thing? The answer is, no. They unfortunately just don’t get as much publicity as their male counterparts, and are much more likely to receive harsher criticism and judgement. (Take a look at all of these controversies that have occurred throughout the years, if you don’t believe me.) Which is part of what makes Samantha Bee so damn good. If you watch Samantha Bee, you’ll know that she’s excellent at the comedy game. With a comedy news style mimicking that of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, she finds the humor in the most exasperating and frustrating aspects of current events.
With a tagline of “Watch this or you’re sexist,” she pokes fun at her gender having such an influence on viewers. Whether they’re choosing to watch solely because of her gender or avoiding her show for the same reason, she’s poking fun at how much of an impact her gender really has on her career. She is a proud feminist and embraces her femininity, but that is not her defining statement.
Yes, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are feminists but Samantha Bee is able to give her jokes a little more of a reality check because hey, guess what, she’s LIVING IT. The jokes about her indignation at control over women’s bodies? Yeah, that’s affecting her. And 2016 elections are giving her ungodly amounts of material—and her unique viewpoints on it are only furthering the humor.
On one of her episodes, she discusses Kansas Senator Mitch Holmes who had the gall to suggest a dress code at the state capital, targeting only women. When asked about why he was so specific, he responded, “They (men) already know how to dress professionally.”
Samantha Bee nods solemnly. “We are sluts.”
She then fires back about Kansas having to close their public school early due to a lack of funds. She challenges them about their lack of priorities in funding, but then jokes that they obviously didn’t know how to manage a budget since “the blood in their heads, were actually in their boners.”
In many of Bee’s episodes, she draws attention to women’s issues such as anti-abortion laws, male politicians’ ridiculous thoughtful observations about women’s health, and the sexual assault and harassment many women are likely to face in their lives.
This doesn’t sound like comedy—but it is. Samantha Bee crafts her humor in poignant ways that not only inform, but allows the audience to laugh. They are not laughing at women or sexism or victims of abuse- they are laughing at the absurdity of it all. And THAT is the key to Samantha’s humor (and any other kind of “politically correct” humor).
Samantha could be deemed as offensive. She curses. In one sketch, she jokes that after Clinton’s advisers told her she was being too emotional during a debate, she had to write “don’t be c*nty” on the back of her hand.
And her jokes are tough. One of her harshest ones was geared towards Marco Rubio, who was bold enough to make the claim that Hillary Clinton is in favor of babies being aborted at any time, even up to their due date. Samantha Bee plays the clip of Marco Rubio making this outrageous claim, and then the camera cuts to her face. I can only describe the look on her face as pure disgust and exasperation. “That… is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Her tongue is dripping with sarcasm as she laments that he probably thinks women are giving birth into trashcans and giving the fetal remains to Planned Parenthood. At first glance, that’s a pretty gruesome image but it’s such a ludicrous one that it’s funny. What’s the point of such imagery, you may ask? That people who claim Planned Parenthood harvests fetuses, are people worthy of being laughed at.
This is just a taste of her humor and I strongly encourage others to watch her episodes on TBS. Not only does she tackle these difficult news stories, but she also educates her audience on many misguided topics. And if that weren’t enough, this woman practices what she preaches. At least 50% of her writers are female, and 30% are nonwhite. Sad as it is, that’s pretty impressive in the television world.
So watch her show, tell us your favorite Samantha Bee sketch, and link it below!