What happened when Shelley Correll interviewed Samantha Bee

Shelley Correll (left) interviews Samantha Bee at the Stanford Memorial Auditorium as a part of Stanford Live’s 2017-18 season event. (Image credit: Azar Kafaei)

There was a full house in Memorial Auditorium when sociologist SHELLEY CORRELL interviewed America’s “first lady of late night,” SAMANTHA BEE.

The Nov. 10 event, part of STANFORD LIVE’s 2017-18 season, was also a celebratory nod to Canada’s 150th anniversary. Bee, a Canadian who recently became an American citizen, offered her perspective on American politics and culture under the questioning of Correll, the Barbara D. Finberg Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

Bee is the host of TBS’s satirical show Full Frontal. She also was, as Correll noted, the first “foreign” correspondent of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart more than a decade ago, when she first captivated audiences with her political wit and humor.

Correll – citing comedienne Jane Curtain – introduced Bee as a “tiny package of fire and kittens.” Bee entertained the Stanford audience with her quips and thoughts about everything from discussion of sexual harassment becoming mainstream to achieving diversity in the workplace. Bee’s show has been lauded for its diversity and inclusion, and Correll’s scholarship focuses on the sociology of work and gender.

“I jumped at the chance to interview Sam Bee,” said Correll. “She is such an important commentator on the current American political context. Her insights are fresh and her show, for me, is cathartic. As I talked to her in person, I developed an even deeper appreciation for her commitment to gender equality, social justice and democracy.”

Acknowledging her unique position as the lone female voice in late-night television, Bee said she feels no pressure to kowtow or to conform the satire of her show in response to public pressure. “There is nobody else who does comedy about abortion,” she said. “We make comedy in the darkest places.”

The audience question-and-answer period was as riotously fun as the interview itself, with Stanford community members asking her about how she and her husband, both in the entertainment spotlight, maintain an egalitarian domestic life and about sexual assault in the entertainment industry.

Bee also fielded questions from students on life and career advice. Not mincing words, she recommended that students be “nimble and flexible,” adding, “You have got to do it yourself; you have got to make your own opportunities.”