The new faces of the TBS comedy slate — Samantha Bee, Jason Jones and Rashida Jones — joined Conan O’Brien at an FYC event on Tuesday at New York City’s New Museum.
Moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the panel highlighted clips from each of the four shows, and hit on topics like gender equality in comedy and handling serious geopolitical issues from a comedic angle. Following the panel, the four stayed to celebrate and socialize at an after-party on the museum’s seventh floor Sky Room.
Since her show “Full Frontal” started airing in February, Bee has already established herself as a leading voice for political satire. On the red carpet before the panel, she told Variety that election coverage will continue full-force, even if it entails unusual living accommodations. “I’m looking forward to going to the conventions,” Bee said. “I’m trying to convince TBS to brand a tour bus for us. Because we were so late out of the gate, there aren’t too many hotel rooms in any of the cities we’re going to. So they have to rent us a fleet of tour busses to live in for a couple of days.”
Bee and her “Full Frontal” showrunner Jo Miller spent many years together at “The Daily Show” under Jon Stewart, which she says helped them hone their point of view and prepared them to make their own show. “We just spent so much time there figuring out and sharpening our skills while we were in the service of some else’s show,” Bee said. “Now we have our own. All we can really do is kick the door down, and so I think that’s what we have accomplished.”
O’Brien has been in the late-night game for over two decades, and despite his popularity among millennials, he joked about being well aware of this seniority. “I’m not trying to be young, and in fact I go out of my way to explain to my young fans exactly how old I am. And that they should probably move on,” he joked.
Following up on last year’s trip to Cuba, this is year “Conan” traveled to South Korea. O’Brien said his experiences traveling around with Steven Yeun (“The Walking Dead”) opened his eyes to tensions in the country, like walking down a path with mine fields on either side. “I don’t like to look for those serious moments so much, but acknowledge them when they’re there. I think they can coexist.”
Jones said that starring in the Steve and Nancy Carell show “Angie Tribeca” has been a refreshing break from playing best friend characters, and the “voice of reason” in otherwise insane sitcom universes like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”
“It’s been kind of nice to be the center of comedy,” she said, but quickly followed up that she is still playing a “straight man” of sorts. “Being in a funny show means I’m never going to be the funny one,” she laughed. The writer and actress seemed baffled that women are still frequently overlooked in comedy. “Why should we be fighting for the rights of half of the population?” she asked. “It should just exist.”