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Late Night Girls Club: Samantha Bee & Amber Ruffin | SXSW 2021

Samantha Bee
Correspondent at The Daily Show
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SXSW 2021
March 19, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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Late Night Girls Club: Samantha Bee & Amber Ruffin | SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Samantha Bee
Correspondent at The Daily Show
Amber Ruffin
Comedian, television host, writer, actress at The Amber Ruffin Show

Samantha Bee is the host of the Emmy Award-winning Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, the first late-night satire show hosted by a woman. Previously, she was the longest-serving correspondent on The Daily Show, and she served as co-creator and executive producer of The Detour. She is the author of the essay collection I Know I Am, But What Are You? and was featured in TIME 100: The Most Influential People of 2017. Bee is the voice of The Horny Unicorn on BoJack Horseman.

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Amber Ruffin is a writer, EP, and host of the WGA Award nominated series THE AMBER RUFFIN SHOW on Peacock. She is also an Emmy and WGA Award nominated writer and performer for NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Ruffin was the first African American female to write for a late-night network talk show in the U.S. She is a recent New York Times bestselling author, along with her sister Lacey Lamar, of “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories of Racism.”

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About the talk

Samantha Bee (host and executive producer of the WGA nominated, Emmy Award-winning show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”) in conversation with Amber Ruffin (writer, executive producer and host of WGA Award-nominated series “The Amber Ruffin Show”). The two will discuss the trials and tribulations of covering politics in today’s unpredictable climate from a unique, comedic point of view. As the longest running correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Bee eventually went out on her own in 2016 with “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” The show continues to use political satire to entertain, educate, and empower viewers while keeping the government in check. Ruffin is also an Emmy and WGA Award-nominated writer and performer for “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” and was the first African American female to write for a late-night network talk show in the U.S.

About SXSW:

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. An essential destination for global professionals, this year’s online event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.

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Everybody say hi. My name is Amber. F&I the most of the Amber off and Shawn peacock. And I'm a member of the small But Mighty late night Girls Club. Today is one of my fellow members host and executive producer of the wga nominated. Emmy award-winning show, All right, love it so much and congratulations on your nomination. What did you do to celebrate a champagne or did you just quietly or what did you do? You know what happened? You never said I was minding my own business, you know, there's like a

pencil and I looked and saw Amber Ruffin show bag. So, that was pretty cool. Get some of your merchandise. I need an Amber Ruffin that. What's the most unique? Okay, I ask you a bunch of questions. Would you be mad or happy? Happy what if in the course of you asking me questions, I then asked you questions because I was curious about your life and your process and your world as well. What's that happened? What was your like level of Terror? As you went from Studio to home? And now, back

to the studio, like, what were you doing during the transition? Well, this is very. So I was like when we, when the panther Cafe, Okay, but just kind of close down around us as the world was shutting down. And so, we came to a place, it was terrified about the show, just so confused and an estate, very heightened, anxiety about the world. But pretty shortly after retrieving out of the city a little bit. We realized that if we didn't start making a show. Maybe we wouldn't have a show anymore. I really comfortable that you're like

to stay on the air and I felt like Continuity of all of my staff members and putting something, putting a directions to the week would be really helpful for all of us. Just giving us a job to do. So, pretty quickly realized that we needed to make a show or at least knows instinctively, how to do that together from the time that we've been together. 24 years was like, the sunshine is So, we have like we have an iPhone, we can do it in this, so we started doing that, it was terrifying.

Pragmatism. Like, let's give ourselves a job to do. Let's give everybody a job to do. A whole staff is going to worry. We don't want everybody. Going to put something to do, somewhere to put, our focus is terrible. What is it like to watch? A place to watch a show when you were little girl, did you think one day? And it will happen and I'll put my show starring in the middle of that. It's like I made a wish on a monkey's paw. That's exactly what I should have been wishing to have and show. Everybody is

fine, still okay to wear okay there's no trauma everyone, in school. When I want my show they were like well how do you want to do it? You know because it got approved before the pandemic and then they're like well there's if you still want to do it I was like, yes, they're like do you want to do it from home? And I was like, I don't want to do that. I kept adding more, we live it up. A tiny tiny apartment. Quotes to work. I'm like if I'm here I'm by the will be at work is damn near the same are. So I just came back.

There are two history O, then it was easy for me to come back to the studio, because it's in the same studio and it's all the same people, so, right. Okay. Let's do it. Let's do it now. The student studio and then this is the crazy part because you're really sharing your sharing people, you're sharing camera operator. In our previous space, we didn't control, we shared it with 7 different shows and we didn't know it was the same equipment, but it was like all different operators and multiple people from all different against being very pragmatic

was created to invite with you. It just wasn't. We didn't need that. I am space and we couldn't control anything. So now we have a small large enough to bring our original fat into that. There's no capacity for an operated. And so, we quite the same experience. Those flowers. You can't wait to move around, at least six people in their intestines. Do we really have it? Very lockdown now, until whenever I feel the How do you feel about never having an audience again? Would you be so sad? Is that bad? It's actually okay.

Something that, you know, there are decisions that you make. And I'm sure we can talk about this for 18 hours, and then I accept that this is the way that is. And so, I never personally felt dedicated to the idea of a stand-up. So responsive and our audiences, the people who experience If we can't do it, we can't do it. I feel like that that part was that was not a super difficult, it was more difficult to adjust to just doing the show. Directly into my husband's eyes.

This is funny and he's just like Your face is making weird Shadow. Like, he's just looking. He's not listening for that. Sounds like a nightmare. It's really, really hard for many, many shows in just as a treat. Find a little bit more. I have to say, I do not miss the audience on your show you and you're probably the only one where everyone else, you can see where the hole is. But now I'm I don't even, it doesn't feel like anyting. Although I will be honest when this all went to poop

your show for dear life and it was very nice. So like now it's been a year so I can like, it'll be fun to have an audience and I'll do it cuz my background in theater, it will destroy this. You're like adjusting in the opposite direction. So you and you're going to interstate going to sound completely, not like it is a different totally different experience and it's different with Mike then doing it again in a studio. Wyatt. And that then I was very uncomfortable. Again, it just takes you out of here. I don't know, it's weird.

This is neither here. This is not related to any more talking about each other. I learned that last night, I didn't know, I didn't know cuz we're out in the country right now cuz it's remote and there was something yelling in our yard last night out here. Sounded like it was like, it sounded like there was a murder and we open Children ran down stairs near like each other and they say, make a horrible sleeping. Sounds Like this. so anyway, more, you know,

Alarm. Can I ask you another question? When you first started full frontal? Did you like, I guess it had been a while? Just so did you know exactly what you wanted the format to be? Or how did you go about making it what it became? You know what I mean? I do not play with the format more in general. It felt like it was going to be and we kind of came to that. I don't even know how to describe that. It was like we really knew it was like a main ingredients to renew.

And to really feel like we were like, taking the barn doors and into just like storm the space. Like what as one would storm the capital. You don't just March into something and that is more than the actual is generally generally look at something and there's always a Fieldpiece and then something quick and in the fourth set up with music in pretty late, too late for the network or any what is it exactly that you're going to the weather? Like Unprofessional.

Answer it. Everyone phone is ringing. Call me on my cell phone. Hang up. Who is the wireless caller? I'm calling my Dad. He's calling me from the basement. Okay, I'm sorry, I'm not, I'm not honoring. The sanctity of South by Southwest. Goodnight, like cats going to run across the screen nightclub in here with cats and sunshine. Oh my God. Okay. Sorry, I just saw it. Isn't this incredible? You're making Some Like It Hot the musical. Some Like It Hot in that old old old movie. Where those two men join? All

women's band and Marilyn Monroe was in it. So they were like let's make this and they you know put it together and I was like how could we possibly do this to 21? And then we are the Marilyn Monroe. Character is a black lady and then they were like, we don't know if this is 100% off and taken, you know, we don't like we don't want to make this show about race but this lady is around in the prohibition era. Let's make sure that when she, you know, how she lives is, how she would have lived. you know, she had to be like,

hey everyone, I'm in this bar with all of you come to the front door for you. I think it's beautiful. Can I ask you a question? Yes. Feel free to say no. Oh, but it's always a, yes, yes, okay, this is a weird one. How do you process the news off camera? You know, person a TV, host on camera, but I mean, like, how do you balance out your well-being and, you know, having to do work. I'm sure that you asked the same Challenge and I'm sure I think it's very like,

a citizen of the country. You are You'll have your own sounds like I was supposed to do on January 6th when the Insurrection it was supposed to go on there that I can just kind of promote the show as a citizen of the world. I was watching everything unfold on TV and so sad we were all just like huddled around the computers at home. I'm so angry and awful. And I was also just a little tiny asleep, praying that Stephen Colbert with cancel me, or just like Funk me for an actual news person which teams did. And I was really grateful. They didn't

really want to talk about like I really was like, please don't make me very methodical about it. And I don't have hot to take person in the moment to reflect on that. So grateful to not have to have a take of any kind other than just like sadness and despair. Do you how do you just don't know? Really how to do it all that? Well, My self-care is always only food. Just big boo, baby. You save me a. That's what I mean. It's not healthy. Anyway, there's nothing else. I will say like, I

haven't had. Very horrible days except for when when what the name was testifying. Christine. Blasey Ford. That was the worst day ever. It was horrible to watch out like you had to watch it. It was also straight of scary that was Jerry had to look up and say all that stuff. I just it felt very bad and I remember being at work, we were here. All the girls were just like two seconds away from crying like staring at the television. We were, we were working to you. We were, I was laying down. I've had a little couch in my office when I had a

little soap. I was laying down on it at with a blanket and watching it on TV and everyone was kind of huddled like election night. Actually, in 2016 were we were all just like Gathered completely engrossed watching. So intently and feeling so sad and we'll just just like this. Crescendo, it was really that was that was really awful. Have you seen? And did you watch the Britney Spears documentary? Not that's what our journey back to. What was like in the 1990s? What a journey back to the ship sandwiches that we were all eating and every

guy I wanted to snatch him up and slap him in the mouth. Really said, well she didn't say she didn't want us to follow her around for me. So mad. It was a little Jason that's at some point during the documentary and I was like, Do, do you see? We have these moments in the culture right now. These were our twenties like these were for me. So it was a very formative Everyone at some point. Yeah, that's the takeaway. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go take a call from a mystery person.

This is crazy. I ask you a question. No, more questions dance card. Okay. Okay. I want to know. All right, like, okay, okay, okay. Hero is the night. Trump was elected. Good night, was elected. Where are you now? As far as hope goes, Well. I feel so. Okay, so I'm not stop thinking everytime. I'm feeling it so excited when he sees us as his vice presidential candidate with, that was such a great moment and I was excited when they want course, I'm excited and I feel like

there's a lot of promise I keep coming back to how distressing it was that I can't believe how close it was. I cannot believe how close is cute. Is the part that gives me pause. So I hesitate, you know, like it's hard to See the world in that way. Now there's so much more potential for good. You know, I don't know. Do you agree to allow to allow yourself? Hope you allow, you just want to talk to you for a sec. What stage would you say that you're at? Are you took me

years to just settle my brain and say okay. With a show. And I don't even know why. It's just electric all the time. And are you right now? If you can even eat a lot, are you still like, I don't know, I don't really wear on a streaming service. Do their like, do, what? You feel, baby? Oh, we have no structure of any add. We are just doing exactly what we feel like doing, sometimes these things. There's simply no rules and it just feels like we're trying to discover

what our audience with indefinite. Like I think telling ourselves but what we're really doing is figuring out what we like to do the most and then we're just going to do that. Please yourself, it's my favorite thing. They love Musical musical theater. So of course, But it's true, it's true. You do have to feel like you are in a better place than I was for the first two years of the show. Her, I was like, like nobody can even know what I said. When people ask me questions about it. I was like,

find wonderfully, what is talking about yourself. When you do have a normal like dessert, you shoot over the weekend at all weekend. You normal Saturday Sunday. But it's not enough because late nights. Is only Monday through Thursday. So when we added the reference, shall we enjoy your day at work and I'm living. Good four to five days with her chart of complaining about working. Admirable work, we can I have to wake up at 9. Terrible. Well we do work as well. It's still TV,

it's so hard for me to get that. So you go to food for comfort? The world's worst eater. So when I am the world's worst year, whatever you like I hate it. Things that are orange. What is your? What are the four? What are the four Foods in your very small pyramid? Eat salad. Eat All kinds of beef. Cheesecake and carrots and green beans, and that is almost everything. Add the way it is. I'm really fascinated by like to know more about Cheesecake. What do you mean Fridays?

Are you or just one flavor? Sometimes I'll make that cheesecake and this stays between us. I will make a cheesecake with to take us just and cheese cream cheese. I worked at a bank once and I ate cheesecake for lunch every single day that I worked at that because I was like this fucking job sucks. So much, and I'm so bad at it. And I have erased so much money from people's account without knowing name in so much trouble cuz I didn't know what I was doing. I was a teenager and I would go to Carol's cheesecake everyday at lunch. And I was like, well, I'll take a slice, Mandarin

cheesecake or chocolate chip cheesecake. No human being good, slice of cheesecake cheesecake at Comfort when I said douche. Look, can I ask you another question? How do you think that? Comedy and coverage of current events differs between like us and all the dudes, you know what I mean? Like, how do you grapple with the pressures of being like having? Like the ladies takes, you know it? You know what I mean by that? I don't think about it too often. I don't. Here's the don't. And again don't tell anyone this

what they're doing because I want somebody to Waters and like you know, I think one is really conscious about just Not the same material. I came to really realize that. I'm a different person. They're different people to take is going to always be different and it's going to really come out of your lived. Experience of the world's like the way that we cover a story. You don't even have to be that because you're a different person than you have a different experience. So I became much less self-conscious about

that and I don't think too much about it cuz I just think like what your is, what emerges for you that is reflected in material. What is true of your our shows are very different and that is how it's supposed to be. I mean, that's how he is as it as it should be. So oh my God, look at the sunshine. Sorry, place to sit in the entire house. Jesus, H Christ. This is he. Here we go. Here we go. Here we go. There. Earth rotate. Not today not goddamn today. Come on,

come on. You're Susan Collins, who is not a human shoes because I wanted a second cat and deserved it. But the only way that I can convince my husband to get a second just as Susan Collins, if she was laying on the couch beside me, What do you mean by? I didn't like writing. How looks like physically fighting me. Just going to town and I'm going to remove my hands now. I'm so sorry that I am screwed up. All the lighting in the like basically the whole we did a lot of footage in guest room. That

is the room where my dad my dad has been bubbling with us and it's just such a taupe room is just so boring in there. And like, I'm going to really mix it up and I'll go into the living room, and then we see why this is a terrible solution. Carousel ride roller coaster today, okay? You're not allowed to give out information about upcoming shows, but what I need is a little bit. What is the bit coming up that you're the most excited about? So excited about

coming up that I do love having music on the show, super into it to go away and do a travel piece. I do love to go out and I'm trying to think about how we can safely do that. How can we get the hell out of here? And shoot some interesting content in another country. That is a very challenging within the realm of Safety. You know everything. Very safe. You take a break. Will you take a break? Until you have like will you have a vacation? Will you we have a Edison that's good.

Okay, that's great. 13 weeks. You can have another job. I can have a second job. Doing that. Are you doing that? You can do it like over the course of the week, really do like Fantastical pieces or anyting. It's always like we're trying to keep it the way we would do it when When we get an audience. Real hope so that that position will be hard later. So we do and that's all set. And quite frankly in order for us to stop down and go back, you have to have said something very wild, you know I would never cut and then start again. We

just keep going wedemeyer. Do you think that there? When do you think? PepperJax. certain places will get their riding back at, you know, 20% capacity, or whatever in like, the end of the summer and then I think a year from now we will start getting all the way back to regular and are you I think you're right. I think you're right. I think, as more people get the first, it'll be like one person than two cardboard, cutouts of Halsey and then another person, then two more possible

after will be All of the audience members will feel very awkward at first, because they will feel like they have to laugh really loud and do a lot of like expressing themselves a terrifying. I think that's in the office with you is everybody cuz you're totally? Is it still? Yep. No one's here, right? I'm by myself. What is different? It's different crazy because there's all the stuff happening and especially like, cuz we launched a show like this. So we feel like

No one thought you don't like people watched it but like no one's talking about it on the street, you know. I get recognized you know people aren't laughing. You received zero laugh. So you don't get any We put on a show for parents in the barn similar exactly that. Feeling of like there is no rule and you can feel every one comedy getting out there. Like we are starting to do you know this isn't this wouldn't get a laugh but I think it's funny. Hey wait a second ain't nobody there no way. I might as well tell this joke that only I like, and that's

starting to get out of here. You feel that way? We're not exactly but I do what I do feel and what I just cuz I'm like a real, I love consensus and I like to hear everybody's point of view. So I'm getting a little bored of myself and my own and I'd love to be around other people. This and that is gone like that part is really gone and that I could use I really could use something. I couldn't enter feedback, it's very dry and so much of what makes this personal collaboration. Technically it's not

the same if you can't see each other's facial expressions in person. Yes or no. But sometimes as you're reading a thing, you can see that you are bored or they thought what you said was weird or you know, but you don't get that here comes up or thumbs down and that's it. That's all you have. Yeah, hurry. How there's no VIP k? And there are some times that, you know, something for me and I'm like all this really funny and then I think it's funny but I actually don't get it. I know, it's really fun. But I'm really just reading

and like I'll just read it on my like, yes, this is great. And then I'll do it and they're not there with me where I would be talking to. And so to get feedback from or any kind of collaboration which is so natural FaceTime, Coordinated entry. It's just not, it's not really still find it, still a great, still find it. It says all of those winning qualities but I really can't believe I'm saying the words. I wish I was in an office with all of my coworkers.

Around. Can I just, I just wanted to show you. It's lonely at the top of every writer's meeting. We just start talking and it never stops. And we're just about forever until one of us will be, like, I have a life and I have things I have to do after this. My children are telling me what to do I like. Yeah, you're right. I'm sorry. Maybe something. All of that would happen. So naturally we could do like 10 minutes of that every day in an office and then it wouldn't also tired

of people. Are you doing like a damn thing? I'm looking forward to getting out. I will, I think having your own show was the best one I don't ever want to be part of any of those meetings ever. Again, ever said, yeah. I don't know. I just feel like you're monologuing and everyone's Not no one wants to be the end. So palpable, there's any way these are all quarantine 15 things just gallery. Yeah, we're all just playing with our cat. She's not interested. Okay,

I know what you think was your most favorite memory from got to do. And I know what, you're okay. My aunt my first answer is I never remember anything you want. So I'm always like what happened did something happen in the last five years. As it was, I think there was a good and I don't recall travel pieces going to other places. Doing segments on stuff that I just I love working with these people. I feel like being on the right side of History has felt really good. I feel,

I don't know. It's more that I don't really remember specific things but I have a sense of it does feel really good having made it through the day and not regretting a single bad thing. I said about the Trump family, now for one second cuz they were even worse and worse than I ever said and I feel like I feel a sense of Pride when it comes to even my kids that we just, collectively took a stand and said something that I how do you spell incredible? Your answer was wrong about your feelings. You were wrong.

Okay. I took so many lessons. I was like, everybody was like, what are we? What are we doing? And then finally, let me do it and that is one of your skating episode. I know. That's right. Angry blue jean shorts by favorite moment from the future cuz it's definitely happening. But this is my favorite moment. Something. Now, this is very funny and you are a very good pumpkin, amazing. Thank you for going on this journey with me. Thank you for being patient with all of my weird things that were happening in real life.

And you guys, thanks for coming in in college. Yay.

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Samantha Bee
Amber Ruffin