Samantha Bee Talks Daily ShowChristina Couch
In an age of ongoing wars, environmental woes, and an economy that’s in the pooper, one great American institution remains strong – deadpan sarcasm. That’s exactly where Samantha Bee – The Daily Show‘s silver-tongued femme fatale – thrives. TDS‘s most veteran mock reporter balances working for one of the most popular and comedically poignant shows on television, raising two-year-old Piper and seven-month-old Fletcher, and time with her husband, fellow Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones. Babble caught up with Bee on the phone at her one-bedroom condo in New York’s Chelsea. – Christina Couch
Sweet sassy molassy, how are you doing all that you do, especially with four people living in a one bedroom place?
Four people and a cat. Don’t forget the cat. I know. It’s insane. Jason and I are just lucky that we have an office that we share so we can have sex at work. [Laughs.] We were in a two-bedroom for a while when we just had our daughter, but we didn’t use the second bedroom at all. We all slept in the same room anyway. Jason and I kind of like having our children in the same room with us at night. We like knowing where they are at all times and we’re lucky that we like it. We would go crazy if we didn’t.
So it’s all four, excuse me, five of you, in the same bed every night?
Actually my daughter sleeps in a drawer. Well, it’s not a drawer per se. It’s a pull-out thing that’s like a drawer. We were actually looking at our closet earlier this week, thinking, “This would be amazing if we could have a bed in there. What would we do with our clothes if we converted this into a bedroom?”
But you live in one of the richest cities in the world, your job is to talk to celebrities, sometimes ridiculously lavish celebrities, all day . . .
Yeah, but we don’t live a lavish lifestyle and we’re happy that way. We’re hippies at heart and the truth is, we enjoy each other’s company. We’re very very lucky we like each other, because we work together A LOT in small spaces. I should add that we do have a place that we go to in the Catskills and that place actually has two bedrooms.
Is your parenting style also hippie-ish?
A little. The Canadian style of parenting is very laid-back. I’m definitely a little bit laissez-faire about the whole thing. I’m concerned about safety first and then it’s kind of a free for all. I’m not very rules-oriented. I’m not very structured. I breastfeed my children until they can ask for it by name. I don’t get too worried about the minutiae and I just go with my instincts. That’s working for us so far.
Is there anything you have the occasional parental freak-out about?
I worried about eco-diapers with Piper, but then when we had the second kid, I kind of went, “I don’t have time to worry about anything.” Anything. I would pick up a package of diapers from the ground outside my apartment, take them in and use them if I had to. I did become hysterical when it came to New York preschools, because I just got caught up in everyone else’s energy. I regret getting so worked up about it, because in the end we found a great preschool.
What’s your greatest parenting success?
Having great kids. It’s always exciting for me when I don’t get stressed out about something and it works out in the end. Our daughter, for example, was a late talker. She’s pretty shy and we didn’t get too caught up in that, even though by New York standards she probably seemed severely behind. We didn’t get our knickers in a knot over it and now she speaks perfectly clearly in long sentences and won’t stop, so we celebrate victories that come when we’re relaxed. We try not to put a lot of effort into it. Oh God, is that bad? I swear to God my children are always attended to and I’m usually with them. “We bring our kids to work all the time.” The Daily Show has been amazing, because they are so relaxed about bringing our children to work. We bring our kids to work all the time.
I’ve noticed appearances by your kids on the show. How is that going?
Ha ha ha! We did put a moratorium on Piper’s appearances at a certain age because, well, normally we’re making fun of her, and once we figured that she might sense that, we just stopped entirely. We don’t ever want to feel like we’re damaging her. She was a wonderful prop. Fletcher, I think, is on the schedule for an appearance soon.
Do you have any aspirations to get your kids involved in the performing arts?
None whatsoever. I hope to God that they don’t go into the performing arts. I pray for all of our sakes, because when I’m old, I would like to be put up in a good-quality nursing home and they won’t be able to afford it if they go into theater. I may have done too many jobs with messed-up children, but, I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like a healthy, laid-back environment. Children already feel like they’re the center of the universe. They don’t need a whole network of people encouraging that on top of what they already feel.
I’ve read that you and your husband met while working on a children’s theater production and that you both hated it. Has that hatred calmed down a little since having kids of your own?
Oh, we were doing the worst show. I can’t even tell you the name of it. Children should not have been subjected to the show we were doing. There is great children’s theater out there and if I had been doing some great children’s theater, it wouldn’t have been a horrific experience. However, I can say that what we were doing should not have been witnessed by anybody of any age, and that’s why it was terrible. We take Piper and Fletcher to shows every now and then. We took them to the circus a while ago and they loved it. Well, Piper loved it because we allowed her to have a snowcone and Fletcher was just mesmerized. He loved the whole experience. You didn’t hear a peep out of him the whole time. He was really entranced and Piper was just totally preoccupied by staring down at her snowcone. While people were flying overhead on the trapeze, we were like, “Look up! Look up!” and she was like, “I don’t think you understand what is going on. I have a snowcone.”
Is this whole process easier the second time around?
I wouldn’t say it’s easier. We were more relaxed about the process. I knew what to expect from my body. It really helps that Fletcher is such an easy-going, amazing little boy. He is just the gentlest little smileball, but it was difficult integrating another person into our household. We have one daughter already and we didn’t really realize how jealous she would be. “I enjoy my children so much; I wish that I had five.”
It’s got to be hard managing sibling rivalry in such a small space.
It was. It completely fizzed out after two or three months and now everything is good as gold, but at the time it was like having a baby and a dingo in the apartment. All we were doing was protecting the baby from the dingo. It was really tiring.
Is this how you thought motherhood would be?
I don’t know. Before I had children, I don’t think I felt that there was a maternal bone in my body. I mean, I always sort of assumed that having kids was the biological imperative and that I would do that someday, but I wasn’t yearning for it. I was never the kind of person who would make googly eyes at other people’s babies, ever. As soon as Piper was born, I instantly regretted not starting a lot sooner. I enjoy my children so much; I wish that I had five.
So then there’s definitely plans for more baby-making in the future?
I don’t know. I’m going to let nature take its course now. I’m going to let my old, tired eggs decide.
What’s the secret to making it all work then?
Be happy with simple things. Jason and I are pretty happy when we can have an hour to ourselves, eating a piece of chocolate and watching Top Chef. Those moments are so golden. We keep our expectations for private time low and happiness ensues.