In comedy, you’re always in there, fighting and clawing and elbowing and trying to make a space for yourself. You have to do things that you don’t necessarily want to do — all-hands meetings where everyone’s like, “What are we going to do next? Given that it’s America and you’re not going to get a year — we all know that that’s crazy — but I would have wanted six months. I’m very involved in that in one way that is really humbling. If you don’t do it, you’ll be blindsided when there’s big problems, like big interior structural problems. We did put it in place. I’m struggling in here.” You do have a show with your name on it. But I do maybe feel more comfortable in my own skin. What does it say about our culture that comedians, rightfully or wrongfully, are seen as important?I don’t know. And, yeah, it’s by choice. What would be helpful? Now we have a show. And you heard the news differently because it resonated differently, because it’s delivered differently. I’m just like you. And then you go into your sixth season and you’re like, Okay, now it’s real. Where is that? And that’s part of the catharsis, so that’s great. You have to make hard decisions based on how the workplace is affected by this thing that you’re being called to do. And Bee is still trying to figure out what that means and how to build a show, both on camera and off, that lives up to its ideals. So, I was like, We have to make the best policy. It’s just codified in Canada; you just come to expect that you’ll have that year with your child. I think it’s really important, because I just do. You can be a professional. I don’t know what the pay scale is, but it’s like a full year at 66 percent of your pay, or something like that, from most employers. And so you carry that energy forward, and then suddenly you employ all these people. It’s incredibly humbling, because when you’re doing something wrong, or you’ve made a choice, or you’ve allowed a choice to be made without your knowledge that affects people’s lives, it’s very hard to correct that. More From This Series

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Tags: Like, you think you did. Like, that’s pretty great. But I’m not like, “Hey, man, I don’t know what’s happening here. Does that change how you approach things?You’re totally right. It got broken down differently, and you felt like a sane person. Why does that stand up as much, if not more, than the stuff that you’ve done on the show?First of all, it really was just practical. You have to be professional enough to be a person who is, to the best of your ability, leading a large group of people. When you started, you would say your goal was to “kick the barn door open.” Now, five years later, you’re here. We work in television. You can do all of these big things and calls to action and stuff like that in the world, but they’re not really within your control. Tune in to Good One every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Is that something? I am aware of the problems we have as a company, the successes that we have as a company. And if you don’t do it, I don’t know, I guess you reap what you sow. But it’s true. What is happening?,” your experience of the show would’ve been bananas. And that is by design. Samantha Bee. I am constantly tweaking our processes and constantly thinking about managing the staff. I’m not sitting before you claiming to know everything about my workplace. And not every decision is easy. You’re in the barn. We are just taking from the real news and synthesizing it in a different way. I am involved in the creative part of the show, but I’m also pretty spiritually connected too. I am really quite involved in a different way. It actually took five full years, five full seasons to go, Oh, we’re very established. I’d rather know about the problems and work diligently to fix them or make things better, or maybe not fix them, but have a pretty fucking good reason for not fixing it. Let’s win the competition. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo: Getty Images

When Samantha Bee was doing press for the launch of Full Frontal in early 2016, she and her producers vowed to “kick the barn doors in.” Pretty quickly into the show’s run, it was clear what she meant: If the show was talking about something that made them angry, they were going to be angry. I do think that I am different. It took me five seasons to go, This was for the history books, and now we can breathe. You can be thankful. We were like, Holy shit. A producer on the show got pregnant. But if you didn’t know the story, if you weren’t familiar with the players, if you knew nothing, you wouldn’t find any of these jokes funny.”

And by the way — and I think this is not talked about enough, so I’ll say it — we cannot do our jobs without journalists. You have to just fake it to make it, in a way. But if you were watching The Daily Show and you were like, “What is Iraq? I can’t make the workplace delightful for everyone all the time. If we don’t have all the Frontline clips, we can’t fucking make our show the way that we make it. What would I have wanted? No place I’ve ever worked before has had that. I needed that time; I wasn’t ready to go back. And if they do, that’s great. Good One
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Do you think about why people want comedy to be saving the world? You talked about how it was the most generous of the late-night shows. Articulating this is very therapeutic. It’s a mental thing, because you feel like you’re always swimming upstream. But if you incorporate all of our breaks — which, we have very scheduled breaks — it actually is six months of fully paid leave, which is great. But one of the things that we could do was control our own happiness, like within the organization. And it became a refuge for those who didn’t find men calmly sitting behind a desk cathartic. We just have to have the best policy. But now, five years later, as the show is in its sixth season, it is undeniably in the barn; it is established. The reason I challenged all the other shows is because they should have it too. I really, really don’t know. If you’re not in the trenches a little bit or just dealing with the nitty gritty of it, I don’t know what you’re doing. Our family-leave policy is 20 full paid weeks, which is five months. What is it?” And then we realized that it didn’t exist; we hadn’t been called to create one. I’m normal. Why do you deny that this is true?” We all spent all of our days going, “You didn’t get your news from this show. That is bananas. But I probably know more about the ins and outs of my workplace than most other people in my position. You can read an excerpt from the transcript or listen to the full episode below. My job was generous about giving me however much time I needed off, but actually, I couldn’t afford to stay off work for as long as I wanted to. We cannot do it. Sometimes some ask “What has your show done to make the world better?,” hoping you’ll make some grand statement about satire, and instead you’ll mention your family-leave policy, which you announced in January 2020. It’s still work, and you still have to hate somebody and not get along with your coworkers somewhat. This is not fucking true. I will say that. We should want to do this. People never did really get their news from The Daily Show. We should have the freedom and flexibility, and we should enjoy our jobs and feel supported to do them. I really can’t. How does that feel? We’re not neurosurgeons. I learn from it. Everyone’s looking for an easy answer. I was like, “Wait a minute, did we have a family-leave policy? It’s actually very, very challenging, and it really can be very painful. I remembered my leave at The Daily Show was not … I’m originally from Canada, where people get a year — like a full year. You can be grateful. I don’t know if other shows adopted that. I can’t fix those things, but as we go, I try to do the right thing. Do you feel like you have a different approach to being a boss than other late-night shows?I do. We’re part of the pantheon of established shows now. I know that the whole time I was at The Daily Show, the big conversation before Trump in the world of political comedy was “I get my news from The Daily Show.” “I get my news from you. I don’t think that I’m particularly good at management naturally, and it’s hard to learn on the job, but I’m always trying really hard to do the right thing. We have to be a leader, not just compete against the other shows. We’re in crisis.” And you’re like, “Hi, everyone. On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Bee talks about people’s relationship to political comedy, learning how to be a boss, reckoning with life after Trump, and accepting being established. You didn’t. Actually, that’s crazy. That’s a bad, long answer, but it takes up a tremendous amount of time and energy. I think we’re going to be just fine.” A lot of things that don’t feel like upstart things. We are in the barn, and I don’t think that it has changed my approach to the show. That transition from upstart show to establishment show takes a long time.