In Conversation with Samantha Bee

JUSTIN HOCH [(CC BY 2.0)] / FLICKR (changes made)
Comedian Samantha Bee speaks at the Mondavi Center

On Nov. 11, comedian Samantha Bee was featured in a 75-minute conversation and audience Q&A at the Mondavi Center, hosted by Scott Syphax, a Sacramento-area entrepreneur.

“The eagle has landed,” Syphax announced to the thunderous applause of the sold-out Mondavi Center. The crowd leapt to its feet as Samantha Bee bowed and waved her way across the stage.

Delani Klein-Lane, a third-year managerial economics major, said she attended because she likes Bee’s humor.

“I really admire her politically, as a public figure, [and as a] comedian […] I think she’s really funny,” Klein-Lane said. “I have been following her [commentary on] recent political news and I’m a fan of hers.”

Professor Sally McKee from the UC Davis Department of History said that she looked forward to Bee’s commentary on the present political climate.

“I want to hear and channel her anger at this misogynist, lunatic narcissist,” McKee said with regard to Bee’s position on Trump. “I am so mad [and] so angry, and I adore Samantha Bee because she is so funny. She has a very acute analysis as a woman and I think she has a very sharp satiric take on the politics.”

McKee also mentioned what she believed students could gain from Bee’s speech.

“I think students will learn about satire and how to do satire in a way that energizes people and is constructive rather than destructive — […] that motivates people to say, ‘I am really pissed off and I’m gonna do something about it,’” McKee said.

McKee attended the event with Emily Albu, a friend and fellow staff member in the Department of Classics. The two described what they were most looking forward to. McKee said she was looking forward to “a little levity in the midst of really depressing news.”

“I want her to bring a punch into really sharp analysis that makes us laugh and gives us a little hope,” McKee said.

Albu said that she admires Bee’s feminism and, given the chance, she “would’ve asked her […] how she is maintaining any sense of tranquility in the midst of this insane, awful circumstance we find ourselves in.”

Throughout the evening, Bee covered a large variety of topics, including the night of the 2016 Presidential election, sexual assault in Hollywood, the Virginia Elections and her travels to Iraq with her show “Full Frontal.”

Bee initially responded to Syphax’s inquiry about what happened on Election Night with a long sigh.

“Well I didn’t vote for Trump.” Bee said. “I think that there is a deep, deep vein of misogyny that is not exclusively perpetrated.”

She continued on to describe the environment in the studio that evening.

“When I thought that [Hillary Clinton] was going to win, we knew in our office that we would face a tsunami of misogyny and there would be a horrible backlash and it would just be investigations and shutting her down and it would be nearly impossible for her to do anything for a really long time but we would still be really happy,” Bee said. “I didn’t expect this to happen, but I do feel that [misogyny] so acutely now — not that I ever doubted it was there, but I feel it is so exposed now, it’s just so raw. I can’t tell you the way people come at me with such hatred and vitriol, it’s really remarkable.”

Syphax moved onto the topic of misogyny in the workplace and the number of sexual harassment claims and accusations that have been flooding the media, namely with Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore.

“Listen, we’re all really happy and grateful that you guys are getting woke, but you do need to believe us [women] when we say these things,” Bee said to the men in the audience. “It’s good you’re coming around.”

Syphax contradicted Bee by stating, “you gotta give us a little bit of a break, my friends don’t come and say, ‘Hey, you know I masturbated in a plant this morning, just thought you should know.’” Syphax was interrupted by the rumbling of the audience and Bee immediately provided her take.

“Yeah, you guys have gotten enough breaks,” Bee said, igniting a wave of cheering and applause from the audience.

Bee expanded on the issue of sexual harassment and the lack of consent that has been so apparent in the recent cases brought into the eye of the media.

“By the way, I pretty much can guarantee that 99 percent of the women in this room have been masturbated in front of at some point in their life against their will,” Bee said. “It‘s so done, it’s so typical, we’ve all experienced it. There are so many versions of masturbating into a potted plant that we’ve been dealing with forever.”

Later in the evening, Bee described her current perspective on the state of the country and where she believes America is headed.

“In all of this slog and mire that we are in, I somehow feel more powerful and hopeful about the future than I ever have before,” Bee said.

Bee mentioned the recent election of Virginia’s governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, and the high voter turnout despite the weather as her reasoning.

“In Virginia, there’s this tidal wave of people […] that are just as outraged as we are and people are taking action,” Bee said. “People are engaging in their community and women are running for office and they’re winning. [But] we have to vote! Voter turnout is the key to everything.”

Bee continued to hit on topics that related to the international reaction to Trump’s presidency and gun control throughout the show.

Bee also discussed her visit to Iraq in August with her show “Full Frontal.”

“We went to Iraq because […] we were observing coverage of the war and it’s obviously very male-dominated,” Bee said. “The women in those stories always look sad and scared and they’re always scuttling around trying to hide and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to tell this war story by talking to the women who are on the ground there?’”

Bee described what she called a life-changing and remarkable experience with the female peshmerga soldiers in Iraq.

“These women soldiers went into a hospital, they were fighting ISIS, they are trained, they do the same work on the front lines as the men do [and] they use the same weapons,” Bee said. “It was such a uniquely women story.”

The highlight of her conversation with a peshmerga woman, however, came when she asked what made the women’s experience as a soldier different than that of the men. Bee said the women, upon entering a hospital in disrepair, “put their weapons down and they cleaned up the whole hospital.”

Alex Dillabaugh, a first-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, talked about what he most enjoyed about the event.

“[Bee] says she feels like there is progress in this country,” Dillabaugh said. “If someone who is looking at the news all the time — which is pretty depressing to look at — [says that], I think that’s a pretty good take away, that there is hope”

 

Written By: Priyanka Shreedar — campus@theaggie.org