Canada’s main exports to the States are vehicles, minerals and funny people. While I don’t really worry much about the cars or potash, as a diehard lover of CanCon, I’m usually bummed to see the pipeline of comics and comedy writers heading south. This year, however, I was grateful that the States got Samantha Bee—between their President’s sexist and xenophobic shenanigans and the nightmares coming out of Hollywood, Americans need her.
Bee won a place in our collective hearts as the first, and longest-serving, correspondent on The Daily Show, the show that carried us all through the Bush administration. Her deadpan delivery, peppered with a literally hysterical, if-I-don’t-giggle-maniacally-I-will-start-sobbing laugh, was hella refreshing back in ’03. (Remember when we thought Bush was the low point of American politics?! Oh, how naïve we were.)
But she jumped ship in 2015 to become the only woman on late night with her show Full Frontal. And in a landscape so dudely that there are literally three late night shows hosted by a guy named James (you can’t even make that one up), she’s been a breath of fresh air. Instead of trying to fit in with the bros around her, she tore up the existing late night script and made her own. I mean, her theme song is “Boys Wanna Be Her” by Peaches. C’mon. So badass! Then, she comes at us with a half-hour of rapid-fire punchlines, intentional pregnant pauses and, yes, that if-I-don’t-giggle-maniacally-I-will-start-sobbing laugh. No guests. No musical numbers. No hackneyed interviews with celebrities shilling their latest movie/TV show/product endorsement. Instead, she’s making us laugh and, in the process, fuelling the fires of The Resistance.
It’s typically a sexist cliché to focus on what a woman wears in the public eye, but this femme lives for Sam’s wardrobe of stiff blazers and the occasional legendary cat blouse. When you’re in a sea of dudes in suits, your uniform is, unfortunately, important. She’s clearly a member of Hillary’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits, but her wardrobe choices are political in other ways, too. This year, she raised one million dollars for Planned Parenthood through her “Nasty Woman” shirts.
And for a white lady from Toronto, she’s putting in that intersectional work, too. She routinely calls out White America and yes, White Feminism™. Her writing room is 50% women and a 1/3 people of colour. She gives women of colour a chance to crush it in front of the camera, too. Her correspondents, named the Sam Squad, include the amazing Ashley Nicole Black (A hilarious comedian that you need to Google NOW) who hosted a powerful segment in February on the history of Black resistance in the US.
But she’s not just good for America. In an era of Ivanka’s Dad, “ironic” sexism and #MeToo, we all need Samantha Bee. I worry every day about the state of the world and what the future holds for women. But I keep reminding myself of a gem Sam recently gave us: “The meteor has already hit. So don’t worry about what the dinosaurs think. The future of comedy is yours. So burn it down, my witches.”
More from FLARE’s ‘12 Days of Feminists’ series:
Day 1: Anne T. Donahue on Fierce Truth-Teller Scaachi Koul
Day 2: Sadiya Ansari on Fearless Supernova Jane Fonda
Day 3: Janaya Khan on Mary Hooks Bringing Black Moms Home
Day 4: Meghan Collie on “Unf-ckwithable Voice of Reason” Lauren Duca
Day 5: Nakita Valerio on Effervescent Community Leader Nasra Adem
Day 6: Anne Thériault on Tanya Tagaq Singing Truth to Power
Day 7: Laura Hensley on Unapologetic Activist and Entrepreneur Jen Agg
Day 8: Jenn Berry on Exuberant Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante
Day 9: Lora Grady on the Electrifying Lindy West
Day 10: Farrah Khan on the Beautiful Jill Andrew & Aisha Fairclough
Day 11: Fariha Róisín on Art-World Renegade Kimberly Drew
Day 12: Huda Hassan on the Artful Kim Ninkuru