Samantha Bee on Playing Her Husband’s Mother on The Detour, Full Frontal, and The Daily Show

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Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

With Upfronts week in full swing, TBS hosted a “Night Out” panel at the New Museum on Tuesday night to showcase the network’s comedy heavyweights: Conan O’Brien, Samantha Bee, Jason Jones, and Rashida Jones. In a conversation moderated by CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Samantha Bee talked about her roles on the Daily Show and Full Frontal, and about playing her husband Jason Jones’s mom on The Detour. Yep, that's right, Samantha Bee will be playing her real-life husband's fictional mother in what will no doubt be a meta commentary on how women are cast in Hollywood. Below are excerpts from the talk.

On what she learned from The Daily Show:

“I think the one thing that I was really given the opportunity to do is figure out what my point of view is. Full Frontal is all about point of view. We don’t shy away from it at all. We don’t really try to find a midline. We just go for it every episode. And that’s what we intended to do. I think developing that sharp point of view is something that we learned. The showrunner, Jo Miller, and I worked at The Daily Show together. And we just spent so much time there figuring out and sharpening our skills while we were in the service of someone else’s show. Now that we have our own, we’re, like, okay. All we can do is kick the door in and see what happens. I think that’s what we’ve accomplished.”

On keeping Full Frontal funny (or not):

“We’re not as concerned — ah, it’s a comedy show, so we’re always concerned with it being really funny. But I think there’s also a storytelling aspect to it that is more important at certain points. We went to Jordan and talked to Syrian refugees. And that was really fun for us. There wasn’t a super-comedic way to tell their story, so we just let them tell their own story. So actually that is one aspect of the show. That we’re not always totally concerned with being funny. Ninety-nine percent of the time we are.

On playing Jason Jones’s mom on The Detour:

Bee: I, in an Oedipal twist, play Jason’s mother on the show. It’s so sensual though. You’ll really like it. I play Jason’s mother and so just digest that.

Tapper: I’m assuming that’s like a meta commentary on how women are cast in Hollywood, right?

Jones: Yeah, she’s over 40. She’s a mom.

Bee: Or grandmother. A grandmother to two 11-year-olds.

Later on, an audience member asked the panelists to comment on what they’ve learned from playing their characters. "I play the angriest version of myself that I can possibly play," Bee said. "I learned that all I need is 21 minutes per week to totally purge all of my demons. It’s very effective."

If only we all had that.