Like a lot of us, civic-minded comedy show hosts are searching for ways to turn frustration and outrage into something positive and impactful. And right now, for Samantha Bee and Full Frontal, that means a more direct kind of political activism that also has the potential to operate as a way to re-ignite engagement in people who may be waiting for the moment to jump into the choppy waters of the democratic presidential primary. To do this, Bee and company have created an app (a second app, following last year’s This Is Not A Game: The Game) called Full Frontal’s Totally Unrigged Primary that is set to launch this fall. How does it work? We spoke with Bee about that at New York Comic Con this weekend. We also briefly discussed the slow-rolling effort to impeach Donald Trump, “surprise” revelations about America’s system of checks and balances, and the need to still have fun while covering this… unique moment in time.
Can you tell me a little bit about the mobile game?
We’re calling it Full Frontal’s Totally Unrigged Primary. It’s basically, we’re holding our own primary prior to the Iowa caucuses. So we’ve built this game. It’s basically fantasy football meets HQ. It’s a trivia-based game. It’s very fun. There are lots of prizes. So if you have a candidate that you really love, you play the game, you can win points for your candidate. And at the end of the game, the winning candidate will receive this big giant pot of money (through Sam Bee’s Political Swear Jar PAC). So it really behooves anyone who watches the show and is even remotely engaged with the political process to imagine that if they get in there and fight for their candidate, their candidate could win, like, a quarter of a million dollars, which is very significant. No one’s going to win this election in 2020 without a massive cash infusion, so we’re going to be a part of that. Despite the utopia that we all wish we could dwell in that does not require a massive infusion of cash.
It’s just a competition of ideas. The best will rise to the top.
Of course, the best will rise to the top… but also $1 billion. [Laughs]
Is the dream scenario that one of the candidates would campaign for this?
That would be great if one of the candidates campaigned for it. It would be amazing. But I would imagine that they mostly steer clear of our show. [Laughs]
But I bet they like money.
But they do like money, so you never know what will happen. I mean, I think the best thing about it is that it truly is a primary, so we actually need people who would maybe vote democratic but aren’t necessarily fans of the show. We need those people to play. We need people who love Marianne Williamson to play, because, in theory, she could win a quarter of a million dollars. And that would be great for her. All those Delaniacs out there had better get busy and download this game. [Laughs]
The show is invested in the results of this election, to an extent, I suppose…
Well, I’m invested in one outcome, I guess. Yeah.
The impeachment. Do you view that as a distraction for these candidates?
Isn’t it all distracting? I mean, honestly, I don’t know how anybody can have a measured conversation anymore, so why not add? At some point, you just actually have to do what’s right, in addition to trying to raise voices and raise issues… achieving all of the goals that you have for this nation, you have to do what’s right. Like Jesus Christ, what are we doing here?
It’s fun, all the things that we used to have that now we’re fighting for, you know, like inspectors to make sure that meat isn’t poisoned. And air and water. It’s a fun throwback.
It’s a fun throwback. But it is also alarming when you really learn how many of the rules that we kind of govern ourselves by are just gentleman’s agreements. It’s all handshakes and backslaps and like rocks glasses full of whiskey. None of it’s real. Most of it’s not written down.
This we are learning.
What are some of the approaches you have going into the 2020 election cycle to focus on viewers who are maybe not fully focused on these things? How do you kind of shake them and make them really concentrate on things?
I don’t know that I can really define those. Honestly, we’re just handed a big pile of sour lemons at the beginning of every week and we just try to have fun.
But do you still try to focus on the bigger picture with everything else going on?
We try. I mean, I think we’re just trying to feed our joy machine, at this point, if that makes sense. That’s part of why we keep trying to make games. Because we want to enjoy our lives. We want to engage with things as much as… It’s not like we’re unlike anybody else in the world. We understand that things are important, and we want to be able to approach them in a way that doesn’t fill our… that fills our hearts with joy, somewhat. So we’re trying to give ourselves joy.