Put two award-winning satirists on stage for 90 minutes and you’re guaranteed a good time. Montclair’s own Stephen Colbert, joined by late night’s leading lady Samantha Bee, delivered on that promise.
The two entertained a full house at NJPAC Saturday night at “SAD! A Happy Evening” a benefit for the Montclair Film Festival.
Gay penguins, elephant vaginas, President Trump and the rash of sexual misconduct stories were all on the table as were calls for grass roots activism and questions about Colbert entering politics.
Memories of the Daily Show
The two kicked off the night with memories of the Daily Show. Colbert served as a correspondent for eight years—from 1997 to 2005. Bee worked on the show for 12 years—from 2003 to 2015.
Before their news careers both worked in improv. Colbert for Second City in Chicago. Bee for the Atomic Fireballs in her hometown of Toronto. The comic life wasn’t easy for Bee. Back then Bee remembers performing after comedian Tom Green on “vomit soaked stages.”
During that time Bee also worked at an advertising agency and was close to quitting comedy before trying out for the Daily Show.
Bee aced her audition. She and Colbert recalled some of their favorite sketches, such as Bee’s Gay Penguins in Central Park. Colbert countered with a segment on an orange juice commercial featuring an allegedly “gay” Popeye and Bluto.
Trolls and Censors
Fast forward to 2017 when both performers are at the top of their comic games. Colbert as host of the Late Show and Bee leading her weekly show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Her piece on Russian fake news trolls and their role in the 2016 election called them out well before the mainstream U.S. media and Congressional investigations.
Tangling with censors was another topic of conversation. Bee recalled a graphic from Full Frontal featuring an elephant vagina that wasn’t allowed. Colbert remembered a censor nixing an image of two frogs copulating. When he submitted the same picture, but described it as “two frogs engaged in tandem skydiving,” the image was allowed to air.
Getting Through the Trump Era
The evening was filled with plenty of talk about President Trump. To Bee, there’s no comparison to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who projects authenticity and a sense he’s got your back covered.
Colbert likened these times to when the Watergate scandal tarnished the Presidency and brought down Richard Nixon. “There’s no moral center to the nation,” said Colbert, who was optimistic the nation would recover once Trump is gone.
Both saw getting involved in local causes as key to getting the nation back on track. Colbert said while doing the Colbert Report he felt restrained because of the character he played. But is now prepared to support people and be engaged politically.
A Tsunami of Penises
Colbert and Bee also talked about the rash of sexual harassment cases that have dominated the news. Colbert shared how one of his children had told him that if sexual misconduct was like the weather, we are in a hurricane season.
“It’s been a tsunami of penises,” quipped Bee, who turned serious and said these allegations are not surprising to most of the women she knows. She also offered her own promise: “There’s a one million f*cking percent guarantee that I’ve never shown my dick to anyone in my office” Bee exclaimed. “The easiest thing I’ve done all day is to not masturbate on this stage in front of all of you. Effortless.”
Q&A: Colbert in Politics?
The night ended with about 30 minutes of Q&As with the audience.
Carlos from Texas wanted to know if Colbert and Bee preferred the toilet paper dispensed over the top of the roll or under the bottom. “Definitely over,” said Bee, who added if she’s using a bathroom at a restaurant and sees it under, she’ll switch it to over.
When asked what politician is most likely to be indicted in the future, Bee said she’s excited to hear the secrets of Jared Kushner, the “very best elf on the shelf.”
One attendee asked if Colbert would parlay his popularity and political savvy (he set up a PAC in 2011 to illustrate money’s influence in politics) and run for political office. Colbert stated he would never run for office. “Thank you, but no thank you.”
Faith will Get You Through
Someone asked Colbert how he reconciles what he teaches in Sunday school with what’s going on in the world. Colbert corrected the inquirer by saying he no longer teaches Sunday school, but confirmed that he is buoyed by his faith in these uncertain times.
“As bad as things are, the image of Christ on the cross is always the salve,” said Colbert.