When Jon Stewart announced that he would be leaving the The Daily Show in February of last year, Samantha Bee was the show’s longest-tenured correspondent. But although she was considered a frontrunner to replace Stewart as the show’s host, Comedy Central ultimately chose South African comedian Trevor Noah—and Bee left the network to pursue other projects.
A year later, Bee premiered her own talk show, Full Frontal, on TBS. The program was an instant hit, with the first episode drawing 2.2 million viewers (for comparison, the far more established Daily Show had 3.5 million viewers when it premiered last September). Given Full Frontal‘s promising start, Bee fans are once again wondering why she wasn’t offered Stewart’s job?
Katie Couric, global news anchor at Yahoo (YHOO) posed that question to Bee in an interview last week, saying, “You weren’t approached which I found sort of bizarre, how about you?” Bee responded that she’s “very zen” about being passed over, adding that at the time of Stewart’s announcement, she was focused on getting The Detour, the show she co-created with her husband, Jason Jones, picked up by TBS.
“When Jon announced that he was leaving, I was like, ‘Come on, please pick up The Detour, come on TBS,’ which they did. And then they swooped in with this, with the offer to do my own show and I immediately jumped on it. So. It all worked out for me,” she told Couric.
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And while Bee acknowledges the need for more women in late-night television—a fact thrown into sharp relief by the recent Vanity Fair cover depicted a late-night lineup comprised entirely of white men—she said she aims to be more than simply add a female voice to the mix.
“We kept saying, ‘Our show is going to be different.’ Not just because it’s being hosted by a woman, but because it’s being hosted by a different human being. It’s being hosted by me and I have a different point of view,” said Bee.
Getting other women into comedy is a priority for Bee, whose biggest piece of advice for newcomers is to not wait around for female parts that may or may not materialize. “If no one is giving you parts, you write one for yourself and you perform it and you see if the world likes it,” she said. “Come on ladies, you can do this, we can share, we can be a team.”