‘Full Frontal With Samantha Bee’: Ashley Nicole Black on Sharing a Point of View With Her Boss
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee recently returned from summer hiatus, but according to writer and on-air correspondent Ashley Nicole Black (above), it wasn’t much of a vacation. “
You should see our text messages back and forth!” she says. “We’re supposed to be on break, [but] everybody was just sitting at home watching TV.” The Monday-night show’s debut season just happens to have coincided with one of the most surreal political seasons in U.S. history, making for some meaty commentary and searing satire—not to mention an extremely hectic working environment.
“We usually try to put the show to bed on Friday,” Black says, “but if something breaks over the weekend, we will just throw out our work and start over. We go right up until the last minute.”
Black got her start at The Second City, Chicago’s venerable improv school, so she’s used to thinking on her feet and whipping up a joke at a moment’s notice. This season, Bee and her team have taken aim at everything from the Brexit fiasco to July’s contentious Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Black tried to get conservative delegates to say the words “black lives matter.” She had an equally difficult time at the Democratic National Convention getting delegates to explain how they connect with white working-class voters.
Even when she’s not on camera, Black’s voice comes through in the show’s writing—probably, she says, because her point of view is closest to the host’s. “I’m like the black Sam,” she jokes.
Black has always been interested in politics, but her work on Full Frontal is the first time she’s really channeled current events into her comedy. The show’s goal, she says, is to look more deeply at stories in the news, to contextualize them and subject them to more rigorous fact-checking than the traditional media—all while mining the situation for comedy. “That really deep understanding of all the context,” she says, “we try to give a funny version of that and maybe inspire people to look into it a little bit more.”
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Mondays, 10:30/9:30c (This week’s new episode airs Wednesday, October 5, 10:30/9:30c), TBS.