How I'm Living Now: Samantha Bee, 'Full Frontal' Host

Courtesy TBS
'Beeing at Home With Samantha Bee!'

While filming her TBS late-night show with the help of her husband and three children, Bee shared her daily quarantine routine and what she hopes to do when (hopefully) this all ends.

With production grinding to a halt in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the entertainment industry has found itself navigating uncharted territory. To offer a better sense for how, The Hollywood Reporter is launching a regular series that focuses on the ways in which Hollywood's top writers, actors, directors, executives and more are living and working in these challenging times.

Ahead of Samantha Bee's return to late night, in which she will broadcast TBS' Full Frontal from her home in upstate New York, the host spoke to The Hollywood Reporter — pressed against a window to gain the best phone reception she could — about her quarantine routine, which, with her husband, Jason Jones, and their three children, ages 9 to 14, includes a chaotic mix of Zoom calls and Cuomo pressers.

So, what does your day look like now?

Well, I don't think that we have mastery of our days yet. We haven't figured out any kind of routine on a daily basis. I can tell you yesterday was crazy because we filmed all of the segments for the show. Today, it's a little calmer because we did our work but everybody else who's remotely putting the show together and editing it, they're all working like crazy today. We worked like crazy yesterday — me and my husband and my kids were involved.

I get up earliest, do a little work, make breakfast, [then the] kids wake. We set them on a homeschool path. They're all doing remote learning now, which for New York City public schools started this week, so they're off on like Zoom conference calls or in Google classrooms. We kind of make sure that they're all doing something. No day has been the same. It's a lot of homeschooling, lots of meal making, which I always did anyway. I love to make homemade meals, but it's different. We don't have options out here to get take out or anything. 

How challenging has it been working on the show from home?

I think it's the same challenge that anyone has when they work from home. It's just a challenge to give yourself a set schedule and create a structure to your day. But there's a lot of us who are doing it now who do not have those structures in place, nor do we have any knowledge of how to put those structures in place. And we're still just trying to have some kind of continuity. A lot of us are homeschooling at the same time. There's also the anxiety of the world at large. It's immense and overbearing and dripping into every minute of the day. So, there's really no rest. Even when you're resting, you're not resting because the world has gone mad. 

What have you learned about yourself in this period?

I have for sure learned that there is a homesteader lurking inside me, not too deep. Like, it came out. This is the moment that this part of me has ignited. Like, I completely know how to raise chickens. I'm like, the next step, once we're all through this, we're getting chickens. Also a root cellar — how do I store these potatoes? What am I doing with this bag of onions? There's a person inside me that perhaps is very excited to go off the grid, under better circumstances. 

Right, like when you have a choice to come back. 

Yes, if there was a choice involved, I might very much embrace going off the grid.

What’s the best advice you’ve given or received about staying sane right now?

Certainly people like my close friends who I work with have had to advise me or like push me in the direction of communicating with the staff a lot. I definitely can go really internal and I have to be reminded that the people who work for me would love to know what's in my head and that it calms them to know what I'm thinking or what we're doing. Even if I don't know what we're doing, just telling them what I'm thinking or a couple of options or like directions that I think it could go is actually very helpful. So I'm trying to update people as much as possible whenever possible.

What or who have become your go-to news source during this period — for yourself and for preparing for the show?

The first thing I do basically every day is read The New York Times. In the dark, in my bed, I'm reading it on my phone. That's terrible now. Not a great way to wake up. That is our main go-to. I think we're all watching the [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo press conferences and I'm trying really hard to tune out the presidential press conferences because they put me in a state of complete disarray. They are just unhinged, and we do not need that right now. I say it on the show tonight that things would be so much better if he just stayed home and just didn't talk.

What are you doing now as a way to escape the "anxiety of the world at large"?

As a family, we were hiking a bit. There's a huge hiking area near where we are. So we were doing, whenever possible, social distancing to the hundredth degree — work has kind of taken over during the weekdays, but we'll probably go on another one soon.

What's on the top of your to-do list once this is all over?

Oh, my God, I'm going to cry so hard when I see all the people that I work with. I'm going to cry when I see my family again. They're all in Canada. They're now across a closed border in another country. You know, it's like anyone, we're just completely separated. That's all I can think of is when will we be able to see the people that we love other than people we're living with. 

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.