Comedian and political commentator Samantha Bee discusses satire, resistance in Trump era


Sophie Mann/Daily Senior Staffer

Samantha Bee discusses the role of comedy and other forms of resistance in the age of Trump. The event, hosted Tuesday in Cahn Auditorium, was organized by A&O Productions, College Democrats and One Book One Northwestern.

Jake Holland, Assistant Campus Editor

Samantha Bee, host of the late-night satirical news show “Full Frontal,” said at an event Tuesday that though coping with President Donald Trump can be difficult, producing comedy provides catharsis.

“If you worry too much how the outside world interprets what you’re doing, or you worry too much about the result of your words are, it’s hard to be creative,” she said.

A&O Productions co-sponsored the event with College Democrats and One Book One Northwestern because the group felt it was critical for them to address this year’s election cycle, said Maddie Thomas, A&O director of speakers and special events. Rebecca Traister (Weinberg ’97), a writer at New York Magazine and author of “All the Single Ladies,” moderated the event in Cahn Auditorium.

Thomas said the organizers chose Traister to moderate because she had written a profile of Bee in New York Magazine last January, and described Traister as one of the “most interesting feminist voices in journalism” right now. This connection helps foster a deeper level of dialogue necessary for Q&A formats, Thomas said.

During the event, Traister and Bee discussed Trump’s administration at length. When asked whether liberals should respond to conservatives with compromise and restraint or with “bitter opposition,” Bee said she didn’t have an answer. Despite this, she said the best way to combat “Trumpism” is through basic human decency.

“I don’t want to be depressing again, but the White House is a snake pit,” Bee said. “If we’re willing to get anything done in this place, we have to move toward the light and we have to move toward decency.”

Traister also asked Bee about the role of anger in comedy, referencing a story in The Atlantic by Megan Garber, who questioned Bee’s use of “vitriol” in addressing politics.

Bee said there is a double standard of portraying anger in comedy, and that men often have more liberty to express their animosity than do female comics. While she said anger doesn’t always play a role in her work, it can drive her team to produce content that tackles important issues.

“The anger is what we need … It’s for us,” Bee said. “I never want to lose that.”

Though Bee said the actions of this administration give people reason to be fearful, it has been exciting to see people “reclaim their power” as protesters and activists. She cited staff members translating for immigrants at airports on both coasts as an example of this reclamation.

McCormick graduate student Jordan Scherer, who attended the event, said elevating voices of women such as Bee allows for better conversation and discussion.

“I’m done with men talking about women’s issues as if they know what they’re talking about,” Scherer said. “I’m done with white men being the authority … on issues that cover things like abortion, gay rights or issues that affect people of color because it makes no sense.”

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