samantha bee not the white house correspondents dinner

Samantha Bee’s ‘Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner’ Was Viciously Hilarious

There were two big soirees for journalists last night. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner may have gotten the press, but Samantha Bee got the cash. Her Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner raised almost $200,000 for the Committee to Protect Journalists. And it was pretty funny, too!

The live event felt like an extended, live episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee — but with more emphasis on comedy. There were plenty of pre-taped segments — our favorite was the “What Is Facts” segment featuring Steve Buckshemi Buscemi. In the sketch, Buscemi does a riff on the famous Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment.

In the original, a hypothetical cat is put in a box with a decaying radioactive isotope linked to a vial of poison. If the isotope decays too much, the vial will be broken, killing the cat. But since the cat’s in a box we can’t see into, until we open the box, the cat is both alive and dead.

In Buscemi’s version, the poor cat is exposed to the twitterstorm that erupts whenever Donald Trump tweets something baffling and stupid. (Thankfully, a disclaimer appears at the end to let everyone know no cats were actually exposed to Trump’s Twitter.

Though Minhaj did reference the Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment scandal too, Bee’s version was much more (deservedly) vicious.

Bee calls out the culture at Fox News. Not just Bill O’Reilly and those who enabled him to harass women without punishment — but former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who was also dumped from the company after sexual assault allegations.

But, she knows too, that fish rot from the head, so she provides a bit of backstory on Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp. who owns Fox News. She draws a clear parallel between the topless Page 3 girls in Murdoch’s first paper, The Sun and the objectification of female anchors on Fox. By the time she’s done, the only thing surprising about the culture at Fox News is that it hasn’t lead to more harassment.

The whole show was good, but the highlight of the night was the special guest “George W. Bush” — better known as Will Ferrell.

Ferrell opened with “How do you like me now?” — a great gag, but it’s worth remembering Bush wasn’t exactly good. The faux-President did five minutes for the crowd, joking about Bush’s various gaffes and mangled words — but there’s a bit of added anger in Ferrell’s delivery that makes it one of the best times he’s portrayed Bush. (And we’re there for the joke “Helen Thomas asks tougher questions as a dead woman than any man at Fox News can ask today.”)

There were a couple flaws with the special. For example, the Man in the High Castle-inspired sketch where Bee is handed a film from an alternate universe of her hosting the first White House Correspondents’ Dinner of the Hillary Clinton administration is a bit long. (Surprising, since the similar segment of Bee roasting Presidents throughout history is hilarious.)

But perhaps the worst thing about the special is that at the end of the show Peaches performs “Boys Wanna Be Her,” the Full Frontal theme song — and it cuts out early! C’mon, TBS, post the full performance! We need the teaches of Peaches!

Thankfully, TBS did post the whole special on YouTube for free, so I guess we can’t complain too much.