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Samantha Bee’s wardrobe on her new weekly TBS late-night series Full Frontal has become somewhat of a distinctive look. Since the show’s premiere in February, she’s avoided skirts and dresses for a uniform-like blazer, pants and sneakers ensemble.
Speaking at a Tribeca Film Festival panel with Full Frontal executive producer and fellow Daily Show alum Jo Miller, Bee explained that her outfit choice is mostly based on comfort, revealing that she discovered during a test show that a dress and heels just wouldn’t work.
“I [wore] a dress in a test show because I thought that’s what you did and I was so uncomfortable. I was just physically so tight and cinched into the dress,” Bee said, clarifying that it was a beautiful dress but she felt that she could barely move. “And my high heels kept poking through the floor because the floor wasn’t really finished. My outfit was a disaster, and I think possibly the next rehearsal, I just wore a blazer. A blazer is just my life staple. I rock a blazer. I can’t help it. I was just wearing a blazer and running shoes at rehearsal and people were like, ‘You seem really comfortable. Do you want to wear that on the show?’ ‘Please. Because that dress was terrible.'”
Miller added that she likes that the shoes allow Bee to cheerfully bounce onstage at the start of the show.
On one recent episode, though, Bee aired a field piece about her quest for another outfit, the NRA Eddie the Eagle mascot costume, satirically showing how strictly the NRA controls a costume versus how simple it is to purchase a gun.
“That story took a long time to produce from start to finish,” Bee said. “It was a really long process of figuring out the legal parameters of everything [including navigating various states’ gun laws]. We knew when the piece aired that someone would try to sue us for sure, which definitely would have happened except it was so locked down and air tight.”
Another memorable interview Bee conducted was with Texas lawmaker and abortion-regulations supporter Dan Flynn, but while the two are shown disagreeing in a way that’s played up for comedic effect, Bee insists that he knew why she was there and that she doesn’t want “to interview people who don’t know where I’m coming from.”
“I like us to be on pretty equal footing when we go into a room together — it actually just makes me feel better, quite honestly,” she added. “So he was very aware of our point of view and what we were talking about.”
And, she points out that while they disagreed, they had a “pleasant” conversation.
“I mean, this is not going to be easy to believe but we actually had a really great conversation. He was really pleasant. We had a nice afternoon. We disagree with each other on absolutely, almost everything. I mean anything politically, we pretty much disagree on but as people we’re agreeable,” she said. “We certainly had a lively discussion. At the end of the discussion, it was quite amicable and friendly. I don’t think he liked the piece, but he did have a chance to express his point of view, and we’re being very careful about that on the show. We’re really giving people a chance to express their point of view. It’s important to me that we give people enough, you know, at least, time, that they feel like, ‘I got my point out there.'”
While Flynn wasn’t a fan, the subjects of another recent satirical piece, supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, were “gleefully happy” about their segment, Miller said.
“Yeah, they loved it,” Bee added. “They thought that I looked really stupid and like a complete idiot in it and that I was very brave for letting them walk all over me.”
Miller and Bee also discussed what a typical week is like working on Full Frontal. After they finish taping on Monday, they both indicated that they just decompress that night and on Tuesdays start to settle into planning the next week’s program with things getting busier as the week goes on.
“Tuesday is a little bit of a day of rest. Wednesday it starts to get serious. Thursday is jamming it, and Friday I would say is the most stressful day,” Bee said. They pointed out that on Fridays, Miller’s office door is plastered with signs that say “Don’t come in,” “Don’t even knock.” They also continue working on the show over the weekend, which they can do remotely. Indeed, Miller said that having a more “virtual and online” writing process than existed at The Daily Show, will be “helpful” when they cover the political conventions this summer.
Indeed, the show, which TBS just recently extended past its original 13-episode order for a full year, does plan to cover the conventions, with Bee somewhat joking about how it might be tough to find hotel accommodations at this point.
“We’ve waited too long. We don’t have hotel rooms. We have to bunk with people, so we have a place to stay,” she said. “We were going to be living in a Winnebago in a Walmart parking lot.”
Despite potentially less-than-ideal accommodations, both Bee and Miller are excited about the 2016 presidential campaign in a way that they didn’t think they’d be after the 2012 race.
“I have been enjoying this campaign more than words can say,” Miller said, pointing out that she “nearly cried” at the abundance of good material they had to cut out of this week’s show. “I mean, like a year ago I was not looking forward to [the 2016 campaign]. After the last one, I kind of felt like, I don’t have another one in me. That was a drag.”
Miller added that she was so dreading it that she wasn’t surprised when Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show, later citing not wanting to cover another campaign as part of his reason for choosing to step down when he did.
“I saw it in his eyes, too. That announcement was no surprise,” Miller said. “I saw that, when you just can’t do another one.”
Bee felt the same, particularly with respect to covering conventions, but got excited just talking Tuesday about the unpredictable possibilities this year, including a potential brokered convention and perhaps “brawls.”
“I definitely felt like the last time I did conventions, I would never do them again,” Bee said. “And now I’m so excited, I can’t wait.”
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