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May 29, 2018

Funny Because It's True

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee serves up current political and social facts with a side of satire.

By: 
Samantha Gilbert


It can be hard to laugh at current politics and and current events.

However, that doesn't stop Samantha Bee and company from trying on her weekly show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

The satirical show focuses on current events and delivers the news with a comedic punch to the prefrontal cortex. It is a form of television programming that is of increasing importance to rational audiences in their quest for factual information.

"In the endless barrage of news and information coming at us from all sides, satire is a vital tool for focusing people's attention on what is important." host Samantha Bee explains, "Traditional journalism can tell you facts, but satire can tell you why it's important to care about those facts."

Using the "It's Funny Because It's True" principle has proven an effective way to reach viewers who are quite frankly, tired of being lied to and are in need of feeling something other than anger and total despair while watching the news.

Comedy, in general, is the release that helps hold people together in good times and in bad. If we couldn't laugh about things, events, and people, we'd certainly descend into utter chaos. And recently, it feels like we're close.

A tale as old as time, perhaps. Too dramatic, some might say. Too close to home, for others.

But more now than ever before, the line between fact and fiction in political news has been caustically blurred like a deliberate Photoshop hack-job.

The Emmy winning team at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee works to decipher facts from exaggerations and distractions, flagrant lies and accidental half-truths, and helps viewers lift their wool-covered glasses to expose a clearer vision of what is really going on in the world.

And it takes a village to do so.

Executive Producer Alison Camillo explains, "Each episode requires the combined efforts of all of our wonderful departments: studio, production, graphics, post, and field - which totals about 60 people, and that's not counting our amazing show-day crew."

"Our show really does operate with an 'all hands on deck' mentality and what's very cool about the Full Frontal creative process is that it is totally collaborative! Anyone on staff is welcome to pitch ideas for show acts, field pieces, or digital shorts."

Through the use of old fashioned journalistic integrity, plain logic, keen observational skills, and pop culture references, Full Frontal is a program that makes its audience think and laugh.

It may not be the only program of its kind, but it does separate itself from the herd in a few ways. The most obvious element being that the show boasts the sole female host in the big-boy league of observational, satirical, late-night traditional television programing.

This allows for a unique perspective of the goings-on of, well, everything.

Through logic and wit, and a little bit of well-founded anger, Samantha Bee is able to articulate what many cannot, giving expression to part of the population whose voices have been otherwise unheard.

Without a desk to hide behind and no bandleader to riff off of, Bee exposes her fashionable, blazer-adorned, self to the world, unapologetically taking on current global events, political figures, celebrities, stupidity, and hypocrisy.

"We are incredibly lucky to have a national platform to speak from, and since our show is not traditional journalism, we are allowed to editorialize about facts - and we do so by screaming from the rooftops in the most shrill voice possible!" says Bee.

She is a host who is not afraid to let loose, she is not afraid to be upset, and she is not afraid to be angry.

Four days a week, Bee exercises 22 minutes of remarkable public courage. She is outspoken, yet implements tact. She gives respect where respect is due. She is willing to take on the uncomfortable, willing to dive into the gutter and embrace it as laughable common ground.

But Full Frontal with Samantha Bee doesn't just serve to inform and amuse. What Toronto native Bee and her team are doing is far more important and complex than just delivering the news or just writing a funny joke about a politician.

It is no longer enough to simply know what's going on, as great a challenge as that can be on its own. It is now essential to take the next step.

In so many words, Bee yells, "Wake up!" to whoever will listen, and often provides an outlet upon which viewers may take action. The show provides a reason to care about ideas and topics in which many people might otherwise have no interest.

"A lot of the topics that our show covers can be dense, complicated, or downright depressing, but oftentimes these are the most important stories to shine a light on." Bee points out, "We want our viewers to eat their vegetables, but we also add the cheese sauce of satire so they go down easier."

By implementing these call-to-action segments, Full Frontal does the legwork to provide information based on researchable facts from various and sound sources, and then encourages viewers to do one (or two) of many things.

There have been campaigns that encourage people to register to vote, to sign up for healthcare, to support #MarchForOurLives, and even to write to the Attorney General in an effort to "stand-up for Americans who need medically prescribed cannabis, and annoy Jeff Sessions in the process."

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee gives utmost consideration to comedy and truth in their purest forms. This is done with finesse and it is done with an acute awareness of the striking power of the spoken word.

To be truly effective in doing so, there can be no stepping lightly, no sparing of feelings. There may indeed be inspiration, there may be frustration, there will definitely be expletives, and there will most certainly be laughter.

As it is with the best comedy.

As it is with the truth.

As you will find on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

For its dedication to making the audience laugh while making it think, the Television Academy is proud to include Full Frontal with Samantha Bee in the Television Academy Honors.

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