For all the changes happening in late-night comedy, and the new hosts taking the chairs of retired veterans like David Letterman and Jon Stewart, the genre remains one of television’s most homogenous fields, populated almost entirely by men. That’s a fact Samantha Bee notes in the official announcement for her new show Full Frontal, which debuts on TBS in January. With Chelsea Handler currently off the air (though prepping for a Netflix show) and The Grace Helbig Show in limbo, Bee will be the only female late-night host on the air.
“Don’t watch my new show just because I’m a woman,” Bee jokes in the promo. “Watch because of my nuanced perspective on world events, my repartee with newsmakers across the ideological spectrum, and of course, these,” she says, lifting her skirt to reveal some comically large prosthetic testicles. It seems ridiculous that in 2015 a gag about needing a Y chromosome to host a late-night talk show would be so cutting, but that’s how slow change has been in coming to this particular school of television.
Bee, of course, has the chops for late night, and is a much safer choice than TBS’s last hire, the stand-up comic Pete Holmes, whose show aired in the slot following Conan for 80 episodes from 2013-14. Holmes’s show was frequently brilliant and made a real effort to subvert the formulas of the talk show genre, but he was a largely unproven name in TV and sadly floundered in the ratings. Bee worked on The Daily Show for 12 years and became one of its best-known correspondents, and if she’s following Conan O’Brien (still unconfirmed for now), is more likely to mesh with his younger-skewing basic-cable audience.