Daily Show's Samantha Bee: Mocking Catholics 'Joyful for Me, Pure Pleasure for Me'

This is a little old, but it fits a pattern: Comedy Central's hostility to Christianity (and Catholics in particular). Daily Show joke-correspondent Samantha Bee was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross on June 2, as she and Gross giggled over The Daily Show's pro-abortion joke at the last GOP convention, what Gross said was "interviewing people, trying to get them to say the word 'choice,' which you thought had basically been eradicated from their vocabulary." Then, after discussing Bee's teenage habit of stealing cars and selling them and having wild parties, they turned to how it is "pure pleasure" to mock the Catholic Church:  

GROSS: You've done a sketch or two satirizing the Catholic church and the pope. And you went to Catholic school...

BEE: I did.

GROSS: ...which you write about in your memoir. So is it hard to satirize the church and the pope having gone to Catholic school?

BEE: Oh heavens no. I'm a lapsed Catholic, Terry, a terribly lapsed Catholic. So it is joyful for me to do that. (Laughter) That is pure pleasure for me, I will say. In fact, I'm working on a piece right now that is related to the Catholic Church and it's fascinating to me. I don't have any of that Catholic guilt. I've worked my way through that. There's none of that left.

GROSS: Now you write in your memoir that your Catholic school was considered a progressive Catholic school. What did that mean?

Ms. BEE: It was a progressive Catholic school. We did not, you know, we had Seder meals and those, those adorable traditions from other religions and we just learned about other religions and other cultures and that was just an important part of our -- when we took, we had to take a religion course, of course. But it wasn't just our religion. It was quite inclusive and we didn't have to do -- we didn't wear uniforms and we had to go to church occasionally but it wasn't a huge part of our curriculum. And we didn't have big gory Jesuses everywhere. They were monochromatic so you couldn't see the blood dripping from the wounds of Jesus. (Laughter)

But, you know, my Catholic church was fairly modern. It was on the modern side. I mean listen, it's not that modern but as Catholic churches go, it was kind of on the more modern edge.

GROSS: You say that the Jesuses that were pictured in your school looked more like Kris Kristofferson, circa "A Star is Born." (Laughter)

BEE: Well, sure. Very sensual.

GROSS: And that you had a crush on Jesus.

BEE: I don't know, you know, I've spoken to a lot of lapsed Catholics since I wrote the book and we all had a crush on Jesus. I mean, he was really designed that way for young girls to find him sexy and attractive. I mean, did you ever see the miniseries? You know the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth." I mean, that guy was...

GROSS: Was that the one with Rubenstein? What's his first name, John Rubenstein? [The 1977 miniseries starred British actor Robert Powell.]

BEE: Oh, God, I don't know.

GROSS: Okay.

BEE: I don't know any of their names. I just can really instantly recall the face of the guy who played Jesus in "Jesus of Nazareth." I mean, that was a really important part of it for me. I wouldn't have been interested in it all if he hadn't been, you know, had dazzling, dazzling blue eyes and wonderful silky hair. I mean would any of us?

GROSS: So what did it mean to have a crush on Jesus? (Laughter)

BEE: Well, I don't know that it, you know, I don't know that it meant anything to my present life. It caused, in my family, conflict because my mother is Wiccan and she became very concerned about me and my love for Jesus. Because I really, you know, just like all the other girls, I really wanted to marry him and I thought a lot about what would happen if he materialized in front of me. You know, would I be prepared to get down on my hands and knees and wash his feet? You're supposed to wash his feet, dry them with your hair, you know, there are all these rituals that you're supposed to do. But ultimately the goal is, you know, to be together. And she did become concerned about my kind of -- my approach to that and my obsession with him, and I did have some, I did have, I didn't really have like, rock posters in my bedroom. I had Jesus -- a big Jesus above my bed. (Laughter)

BEE: And she found it really repellent. My father is just a complete atheist and my mother is into Wicca. So she decided that it was -- she felt compelled to introduce me to some other stuff, so she made me go to like a Wiccan mass, which was just horrible for me. (Laughter) Just terrifying.

This "complete atheist" father is a bit confusing, since someone sent her to Catholic school at one time. Then comes the Wiccan seminar:  

GROSS: We should explain that Wiccan means more of a kind of contemporary, kind of feminist-spiritual approach to witchcraft.

BEE: Mm-hmm. Yes. Yes. It was very important to her. It has always been very important to her. But to me it was just satanic, because I just thought it was. It was just the people sort of looked vaguely -- it was just too counterculture for me. But she, you know, she made me go and attend some rituals and it was terrifying. I found it just terrifying.

GROSS: You know, I've known people who have been into Wicca but I've never really known the child of somebody who's been into it and I've always wondered what it's like to be the child of somebody who has beliefs that are considered like far out of the mainstream like that.

BEE: Well, when I -- I kind of felt sorry for my mother when I was growing up because I was so into Jesus [as she was stealing cars?]. I thought oh, this poor lamb of God. She doesn't understand. She just doesn't get it. (Laughter)

But now, I mean, you know, I'm proud of my mom. She stuck with it. You know, lots of people don't stick with it, but she's always had her little, her, you know, oh that was so, oh her little amulets. That's terrible. But she's always had her rituals and the things that she does. It's really an important part of her life. And so I respect the fact that she stuck with something.

Now, it's not for me. It's not for my husband, but she loves it and so, I wouldn't say that it's -- it's not horrible or terrifying. It's not very intrusive when you're growing up. It's the most unobtrusive religious practice imaginable. It's very not in your face. It's kind of a private thing and people gather on the wrong side of the tracks to practice, whatever it is that they're doing. Being a child of Wicca has not affected me negatively. And you get to know a lot about plants.

GROSS: When I...

BEE: They're all avid gardeners.

Earlier: Bee jokes "The Pope's got his flock by the short and curlys"

Terry Gross Samantha Bee
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