Since launching Full Frontal nearly nine months ago, Samantha Bee has hosted 28 installments of her game-changing late-night show. One way or another, Donald Trump has appeared in every single episode. With less than a week to go until Election Day, she is desperately hoping that’s about to change.
Like most Hillary Clinton supporters, Bee is a lot less confident about the outcome of the election now than she was just five days earlier, before FBI Director James Comey decided to throw one more October surprise into the mix. Thinking about the unspeakable scenario that, according to Nate Silver, currently has more than a one-in-four chance of happening on Election Day makes Bee feel like she could burst into tears. “I have a lot of agita,” she tells me. “I think that we all do. I feel like we’re all going to have great, national PTSD once this is all done.”
When I meet Bee backstage at her Hell’s Kitchen studio on Halloween night, she has just finished taping a show so jam-packed with material that what was arguably the most compelling segment—a meticulously-researched conspiracy theory argument that #TrumpCantRead—didn’t even end up on television. Instead, the show decided to stream it for fans on Facebook Live an hour before showtime. Even her charmingly hilarious taped interview with President Obama was relegated to the show’s third and final segment of the night.
Still in her TV makeup, Bee is eager to head straight from the studio back home to the Upper West Side in time to trick-or-treat with her three children. She may be one of America’s most vital comedic voices as we enter this final stretch of the most misogynistic presidential campaign in our history, but Halloween night with her kids remains fairly high on her list of priorities for the day.
Looking at the long week between now and what, with any luck, will be a definitive result on Nov. 8, Bee says she’s more concerned with what happens after the election. “I’m not sure what the next day looks like,” she says, an air of true concern in her voice. “I’m not sure what November 9th looks like.”
But given that this campaign season has given her so much fertile material during her first year on TBS, won’t she miss it at all?
“I’m so excited for it to be over,” Bee says without hesitation. “I’m so excited to be able to talk about other things. I’m so excited to not have to say the words ‘Donald Trump,’ hopefully, for at least a little while. That would give me a great sense of peace.” She pauses, thinking about what her show might look like without the presence of a man she has referred to as a “brain-damaged baboon” and a “foul-mouthed tit judge.”
“Could you imagine a whole show without saying his name?” she wonders. “It’s inconceivable. But it could happen. We may just be two shows away.”
Just two weeks earlier, Bee was in Moscow filming a slew of segments that she will roll out on the show over the next couple of weeks, the first of which aired Monday. The type of field pieces that Bee did better than anyone else in Daily Show history—Stephen Colbert was a close second—have been relatively rare on Full Frontal. But the trip to Russia gave her the opportunity to delve back into that world. And a segment like her interview with masked Russian trolls paid by the Kremlin to disrupt the U.S. election could not be more timely.
In the piece that aired Monday, Bee managed to put the question of whether Russian actors are trying to swing the election toward Trump to bed, not by quoting intelligence briefings but by actually speaking to the people who are creating hundreds of fake Twitter accounts in order to spread lies about Hillary Clinton.
“The White House has accused Russia of interfering in our election. Russia has said absolutely not, we’re not interfering,” Bee says to one of the paid trolls. “And yet here you are, in front of us, telling us that you are.” The cathartic breakthrough comes when she asks him, “Can you understand why some Americans would watch this segment and go, ‘Fuck you. What the fuck is your deal? Why?’”
“I think it’s a fascinating story,” Bee tells me of Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics. “I found it to be a very interesting experience,” she adds, teasing a “bunch more Russia stuff coming” in the episode that will air the night before Election Day. “If you’re going to go that far, you kind of want to make a meal out of it. And I think we did. There’s a lot to talk about.”
It was telling that Bee decided to focus on Russian trolls and the rise of the alt-right in her penultimate show before Election Day instead of the FBI story that has been dominating the mainstream media’s campaign coverage since it broke on Friday.
“It wasn’t really much of a decision,” Bee says when I ask why she chose not to go down that particular rabbit hole this week. “We already had our game plan in place. I think to dig in on it would have felt like a distraction.”
Asked if it was “frustrating” to see Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails” flood back into the news cycle once again—from Anthony Weiner’s laptop, no less—so close to Election Day, Bee could only sigh and say, “Sure. I mean, come on. It is exhausting.”