Full Frontal Episode Review: Samantha Bee and the Gift that Keeps on Giving


In the states that she lost, most people seem to have voted against Hillary Clinton, rather than for Donald Trump, whose credentials as an idiot-savant they were probably aware of already. On that basis, we might be inclined to conclude that any Republican could have won the election. That being the case, consider what might have happened if the party faithful had collectively displayed, what Garrison Keillor liked to call “the brains God gave Geese” and voted for some snooze-fest like Marco Rubio or John Kasich. Samantha Bee and her writers would be desperately scrounging for their next comedic fix.

Ah, but that’s not what happened at all, was it? So instead, she, and all of her ilk, made forcible contact with the jackpot: Donald J. Trump. So rich a vein of material has he provided, even this soon into his term (however many weeks it may last), that the most recent edition of Full Frontal was able to bring us, not one, not two, but three segments in which he was the big noise in Winnetka. (Sorry about the geezerly reference, but no, not really).

More to the point, the entire show centered on Mr. Trump’s sudden executive order to exclude terrorists—that is to say visitors—from seven Muslim-majority states with a record of terrorist activity, unmitigated by a Donald Trump golf course. Apart from the questionable constitutionality of the edict—excuse me—executive order, was the problem that it was dropped, not only on the putative visitors, but the considerable portion of the U.S. Government that must deal with the new arrivals’ suddenly invalid entry into the land of the free. If you check out the show, you will find that Samantha Bee lays out the scene far better than your humble narrator could in so few words.

“What, this is what you call few?” I hear someone out there grumbling.

In the show’s first segment, which may have been the best from a comedy standpoint, Ms. Bee discussed the problem from the standpoint of the immigrants, many of whom had seemingly valid green cards and who had already been vetted to an extensive degree.

In the next segment, the host made the case for a marked difference between immigrants and refugees, which was undoubtedly useful because, in the end, they received the same back of Uncle Sam’s hand across their respective faces. It was in this segment, though, that Samantha Bee reminded us of the ugly truth that the collective paranoid xenophobia that gave us Mr. Trump and his edicts was not a new, low point in American history. The particular instance she brought to light was, if such a thing can even be possible, even more tragic than this most recent exclusion. Catch a re-broadcast of the show to get the details. This is the not-so-fun part of the show, but also, perhaps the most eloquent.

For the second week in a row, Full Frontal gave us an excellent third segment as well. It, like most of the others in the show’s inventory, was an interview. The subject was a civil rights attorney named Lee Gelernt. While Trump and his order remain the reason for that interview taking place, it put some much-desired focus, not just on Mr. Gelernt, but all the attorneys giving of their free time in the cause of the victimized visitors. Yes, yes, I enjoy a good lawyer joke as much as anybody, but we also need bits like these to remind us that these people can sometimes be our last line of defense. What I really liked about the interview was how Gelernt gave calm, reasoned answers to Samantha Bee’s sometimes hysterical (but relevant) questions. This bespeaks a man who is going to keep to the task at hand, no matter how much hysteria the opposition may throw at him., Also, as with last week, I will make the third segment the one you get in the here and now.

Finally, the tidbit at the end was another plug, but, once again, worth spending the few extra seconds on.

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Thomas Cleveland Lane

Thomas Cleveland Lane is a semi-retired freelance writer for pay and a stage actor for nothing more than the opportunity to make a fool of himself. Well, he does get a small stipend from the Washington Area Decency League, after playing the role of Hinezie in The Pajama Game, to never, ever appear on stage in his underpants again. When he has not managed to buffalo some director into casting him, Thomas can often be found at his favorite piano bar, annoying the patrons with his caterwauling. Thomas is the author of an anthology called Shaggy Dogs, a Collection of Not-So-Short Stories (destined to become a cult classic, shortly after he croaks). He is also the alter-ego to a very unbalanced Czech poet named Glub Dzmc. Mr. Lane generally resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and was last seen in the mirror, three days ago.

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