Samantha Bee on Working at 'The Daily Show,' Raising 3 Kids and Her Strange Childhood

Filed under: Celeb News & Interviews

Samantha Bee

Samantha Bee juggles raising three kids with her job as a "Daily Show" correspondent. Credit: Neilson Barnard, Getty

"The Daily Show" correspondent Samantha Bee has a gift for letting the people she interviews make fools of themselves.

But in her memoir, "I Know I Am, But What Are You?" -- now available in paperback -- Bee turns the mirror on her own imperfect upbringing in a series of frank and funny essays. The result: a seriously laugh-out-loud book.

ParentDish recently caught up with Bee, who lives in New York City with her husband, fellow "Daily Show" correspondent Jason Jones, and their three children, Piper, 5, Fletcher, 2 ½, and Ripley, 6 months. An edited version of the interview follows.

ParentDish: No offense, but you were a strange kid.
Samantha Bee:
No offense taken. It's absolutely correct. Indoor kid. Basically, the child who would sit up in the belfry looking out at the other children as they played in the sunshine as I read some kind of Gothic novel.

PD: Were you really pasty?
SB:
Absolutely. There was one year where I actually got a tan because my father made me go to day camp and everyone was like, "Oh, my God. What happened to you?"

PD: You have three kids younger than 5. How do you form complete sentences?
SB:
I don't know. I do eat a lot of chocolate-covered pretzels. I do know that.

PD: Did you plan to have them so close together?
SB:
No, you can't really plan these things. I guess it would have been part of the rough plan. We didn't think it through too much. After Piper was born and when we felt ready to try again we were like, "Let's just do it. I don't know, let's see what happens. If we have it in three years that's fine, if we have it right away, that's fine." ... Ripley was a bit of a surprise. The happiest surprise.

PD: Think you'll have any more?
SB:
I believe the shop is closed. I believe that my genitals are retiring. My womb has retired. Sorry, hold on. (To her daughter) "One second, I'm talking. I'll be right with you." I try not to do that, but sometimes you have to.

PD: How do you switch over from work to home?
SB:
I think the one thing I'm very good at -- and, you know, I'm 41, so it's not like I'm trying to do it at a very young age or anything -- I'm very good at compartmentalizing things and Jason is very, very good at that, too. We're very much capable to work, work, work at work and come home and completely change gears.

PD: Work together, do you ever get sick of each other?
SB:
We see each other all the time. But, you know, we really do enjoy each other's company. It's disgusting, actually. Though there are times, definitely, I mean, we live right up the street from where we work and I'll be like, "Jason, if you just wait five minutes, I can walk with you." And he's like, "I don't want to walk with you." And I'm like, "What do you mean? We can go get some lunch." And he's like, "I don't need to talk. I need to be alone. I need some peace and quiet." So we give each other private space.

PD: How do you do it?
SB:
We have amazing help. People are always like, "How do you do it?" And I'm like, "It's not like we tie the kids to the radiator and hope they'll be fine when we get home." I mean, our families are great, we have a great baby sitter. It's a little Bee-Jones village. It really works for us.

PD: Is your work parent-friendly?
SB:
I give my job a lot of credit. They're amazing. Barring some kind of huge interview with someone who had to be flown in from across the country, they're so gracious about that kind of stuff. There are just so many family people at work. Everyone kind of gets it that some days your child is really sick and you need to stay home with them.

PD: How did you and Jason meet?
SB:
We met doing children's theater. It was horrible and humiliating. I mean, bottom-of-the-barrel children's theater. ... We were all we had. I was the star of the show, I played Sailor Moon in the live action version of the already terrible TV show and Jason was my love interest. It was a very natural progression -- so romantic being pursued by that evil queen -- it really brought us together.

PD: Would you hate it if your kids grew up loving "Two and a Half Men?"
SB:
There's no doubt in our minds that that is how things will work out, because that will be the ultimate betrayal. It's not readily apparent yet but probably in two or three years it'll be like, "Mom and Dad, I'm really into tax law and trademark law."

PD: Any TV shows banned in your house?
SB:
We took a lot of shows off the keel.

PD: Like?
SB:
Umm (sotto voice) D-o-r-a. There are certain things that we believe make you dumber and that is one of them. Actually, our kids watch a lot of movies, but if the movies don't pass the Mommy and Daddy tolerance test, then it's gone. It just disappears.

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