Stephen Colbert talks with Samantha Bee at NJPAC, in a fundraiser for Montclair Film. COURTESY NEIL GRABOWSKY/MONTCLAIR FILM

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Local news is everything, says Samantha Bee.

At a party before the Montclair Film fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival, “SAD! A Happy Evening, with Stephen Colbert & Samantha Bee,” Bee said in an interview, “Local news is the cornerstone of good reporting. We did a big push for a paper in New Brunswick and he is an amazing person and he had done some great reporting and if his paper had folded, and it was very close to failing… he wrote stories that never would have been reported on.

“It’s essential. I wish I could save every local paper.”

Charlie Kratovil, editor of “New Brunswick Today,” wrote on May 17 that Bee had saved the paper with her segment on March 22.

Colbert and Bee both returned to the theme of the importance of the local during their discussion in the sold-out house of New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Local organizations like Montclair Film are “part of that answer” to healing what Colbert called a “broken and heartbroken country.” As the show’s title suggest, comics often talked about what made them sad – in comic ways.

Bee said she was excited about secrets that might be revealed by Jared Kushner, her best “elf on the shelf,” but added that she was “sad by what gives me joy now.”

Colbert, a Montclair resident, has since 2015 been the host and executive producer of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He hosted “The Colbert Report,” in which he played an extremely right-wing host, a parody of extreme political talk shows, from 2005-2014,  and was a correspondent for “The Daily Show” from 1997 to 2005. He has won nine Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Peabody Awards.

Bee joined “The Daily Show” as a correspondent from 2003 to 2014, and has hosted the weekly political comedy show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” since 2015. Her special “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” was nominated for four Emmy Awards, and is Glamour’s 2017 Woman of the Year.

Colbert interviewed Bee about her history as a comic, how she came to be “The Daily Show” (an audition in Canada, where she was just about to give up comedy); a segment about gay penguins; and differences between Canada, where Bee is from, and America. Universal healthcare would never go away, Bee said, or there would be rioting in the streets. And yes, Trudeau is as shiny and good as he seems. The set, which Bee called “delightfully homey,” was designed by Montclairites Jim and Julianne Fenhagen.

Bee said that when the current president is gone, “and he will be gone,” to applause, the institutions that have been dismantled can be put back together.

“I think local politics is the way to do it,” Colbert replied. “All hope for politics is local.”

And though she often misses it, Bee won’t move back to Toronto: “While I’m alive on this earth I’m going to live in New York City and try to make things better.”