Samantha Bee on the 'Full Frontal' move to Wednesdays and why she has no fear in the Trump age

"Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" launched its second season earlier this month in its new Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. time slot.

We caught up with the late-night (sort of) host recently at the Television Critics Assn. press tour for a brief fireside chat at the Langham Huntington hotel. The cheerful Bee discussed her eventful year covering the presidential campaign — among other topics — the show's move, her then-upcoming trip to last weekend's Women's March and the positive feedback she's gotten from critics and fans, for which she is truly grateful.


"It's one of the most challenging and rewarding things that I have ever done," she says of the show. Plus, she jokes, it got her an interview space upgrade at the press tour, where she presented the show to critics last winter. "Last year, I didn't get the seat by the fireplace."

What was behind the move to Wednesday? Is it a better position to be in the news mix?

It's actually more sustainable for our lives to have the show on Wednesdays so that we don't work all weekend. The news right now is so immersive, and if you want to have a staff and a life that can continue, and be happy people and fulfilled in some way, you have to give them a break.

It was something that we wanted and TBS was really great about it. It actually serves a purpose for them as well. It's the perfect tweak for us after doing the show for a year. That's when you can really tighten your process, so it's really a housekeeping thing rather than some grand plan.

Is it exhausting to start from scratch every week?

That's part of what makes it a great experience though, because really every show is unique. I mean the format is roughly the same, but it doesn't have to be, and it's always something we feel passionate about. When I was at "The Daily Show" for so many years, I did so many field pieces, and part of what I loved about that is that it's always a completely unique experience, because every story is different, every group of people you interact with is different and you learn something every time you do that. It's really a gift, it doesn't get stale. I'm not saying it's not hard, but it's worth the effort.

With all of the news that is happening, do you ever wish you were on more than once a week?

No, I can't say that I ever wish that. I don't want that. It's too immersive an experience. It's so fun to be able to cut a show down to 20 minutes from an excess of material than to have to fill space on a slow news night. It's a much better place for us to live.

Will you be going to the Women's March?

We are going to the march but not to shoot anything, but just to exist. We hired a bus to take whoever wants to go, so we'll go and walk around with no expectations of comfort or availability of Port-a-Potties. Everyone will be wearing diapers, we won't be able to hear what's going on onstage, and we're totally OK with that.

You're not tempted to bring a camera crew?

I'd love to take pictures of it but I don't have any expectations that I'll want to shoot anything. I don't know that it's a rich terrain for us to mine of comedy. I think people are going to be having a moment and they're entitled to that moment.

Volume and modulation are important on "Full Frontal," and you are famous for your outraged monologues. But you don't want to be at outrage all the time.

And, like, I can't live at outrage all the time.


So do you map out a balance for your tone so you're not always going at 11?

No, I don't. It's really not that mathematical. There's a natural flow to the script. We rehearse a very fat script as is and then we go into the rewrite and that's where I really carve a performance path through it, but it's not really well thought out. [Laughs.]

What you're saying is, you wing it?

Yeah, we wing it. [Laughs.] No, it's more instinctual than really mapped out.

Do you anticipate that things will change much with the way you do "Full Frontal" under a Trump presidency?

I don't think so. I might have thought that on election night. I had a little panic attack about that actually. I thought, "Oh, what does this mean going forward?" But now, I think, we're just going to continue to do what's in our hearts and minds and I don't feel afraid. I mean, I feel afraid for the country but I don't feel afraid for the show. [Laughs.]