Brassy, TV obsessed, head full of dyed-blond(e) hair, and fond of the word “pussy”: we’re not talking about President Donald Trump, we’re talking about Samantha Bee, the host of her own show “Full Frontal” and Saturday’s special, “Not the Whitehouse Correspondents’ Dinner.” In the phalanx of late night TV hosts dedicated to discrediting the Trump administration with a mix of journalism and poop jokes, Samantha Bee has distinguished herself as particularly merciless. Here are our favorite moments from her TBS special.
Liberals’ Favorite Dream Realized: “The West Wing” Returns
Like a torch-less Statue of Liberty, Allison Janney graciously returned to the White House press briefing room to introduce the evening with a segment showing a press conference of only “fake news” outlets. Mirage-like (Bartlet administration, we miss you) she denounced alt-righters and Russian spies with her trademark deadpan professionalism. “I am told they will be shrill and laced with vulgarities,” she said, in response to a question about the evening’s host’s remarks. “Doesn’t having a female host for this event demonstrate a clear anti-white male bias?” asked a reporter. “Will this just be like all the other Samantha Bee episodes where she just talks about vaginas for a half hour?” asked another. “No” rejoined Janney. “She’ll be talking about vaginas for a full hour.”
Janney finished off her spot with a rousing monologue straight out of Sorkin’s idea notebook: “We have freedom of speech and press in this country and that is a beautiful thing. These journalists work day and night to find the truth… and sometimes they f**k it up, but when they do, they apologize!” She finished by addressing the “journalists” assembled as “the dregs of a free society! We have to let you exist but we don’t have to listen to you!”
Everything Samantha Bee Did
From striding on stage in a punk-inflected bright white pants suit while Peaches played “Boys Wanna Be Her” and immediately taking three shots at Ivanka Trump, to her reoccurring bits imagining herself as the host of White House Correspondents’ Dinners past, Samantha Bee owned every moment of her show. Like a hologram of Hillary Clinton from another dimension in which women are treated as equal citizens, Bee’s confident assurance that truth can be found through comedy carried the evening. “I know it looks like we have a cash bar here,” she told the nearly 2,600 journalists present, “But as I promised you, at a later date we will get Mexico to pay for all your drinks.” She doted on the beleaguered journalists, thanking them for continuing “to fact-check the President as if someday he might get embarrassed” and wondering, “Why do 96% of Americans believe that the media should be strung up by their bowels?”
Glamorous Celebrity Guests
Only at the “Not The White House Correspondents Dinner” would a surprise appearance by the head fact checker at the New Yorker be a celebrity sighting. Peter Canby recounted a time his team was trying to fact check a piece for the magazine about Mike Flynn and sent questions to Steve Bannon. “We got a blank email back,” said Canby.
In the same segment, an exhausted-looking philosopher tried to demonstrate the existence of facts by proving that “P cannot equal not-P”. Bee materialized and said, “Many people have been thinking about the relationship between President Trump and pee!”
Bee presided over a somber in memorium section, celebrating the careers of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, “taken from us far, far too late.” Toasting the recently ousted Fox News heavyweights, Bee said, “What a triumph for women that career sexual predators are finally getting what they deserve: $65 million and age-appropriate retirement.”
This Moment from Billy Eichner
“You ever notice Betsy DeVos and a duffel bag of orphans’ bones are never seen in the same room together? Makes you think.”
A Hard-Hitting Interview
Midway through the show, Bee took a break to visit CNN for a tough interview with Jake Tapper, who grilled the host on her own dinner. The value of free press was never more obvious as he harangued the late night host. “You say ‘dinner’, but isn’t it true that all you served was fancy finger foods? Where I come from, a petit four does not a dinner make.” Deaf to Bee’s protests, he insisted, “I’m a journalist. It’s my job to hold powerful people accountable.”
Appearing as “prodigal son” George W. Bush, Will Ferrell brought the house down. Watch his monologue below.
The Ghost of White House Correspondents’ Dinners Future
A truly chilling segment showed an incarnation of Bee hosting a Correspondents’ Dinner in a future where Mike Pence becomes the president. Shaking and thanking President Pence for “allowing a brief exception to the No Women Chatter Law,” Bee says that she tried to cover up her upper body but, “the slut shines through”. She ended the sketch by begging “father” to release her from her chastity belt.
Catch her final impression at 8:05
Alternate Ending: George Takei and Hillary Clinton Take Over the World
Near the end of the evening, a pre-recorded segment in which Bee obtains a tape from George Takei showing what could have happened in the election is almost too painful to recount. But the clear highlight is Bee, imagining herself roasting Clinton at her first White House Correspondents’ Dinner, saying, “Clinton also raised eyebrows when she put her son-in-law Marc Mezvinsky in charge of brokering peace in the Middle East—Ha, I’m just kidding. That’s so stupid.”
Comedy for a Cause
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which according to the group’s advocacy director Courtney Radsch exists to help “journalists around the world who are putting their lives on the line to report the news” were the honored guests of the evening. Bee reported that the event raised nearly $200,000 for the organization.
As Janney would say, “That’s a full lid, everybody.”