[dl] Books

The Daily Show ’s Samantha Bee takes a humorous look — and an occasional potshot — at her life in her new memoir.

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SAMANTHA BEE WAS READY FOR HER CLOSEUP. Wearing a navy silk 3.1 Phillip Lim dress with silver sequins on the bodice and back, the Most Senior Correspondent from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart let loose her inner glamour girl at the cover shoot for her new memoir, I Know I Am, but What Are You? (Gallery Books, $25). But take one look at the book’s final cover, and it’s clear that things didn’t go according to Bee’s plan. Instead of appearing primped and poised, she’s slumped on the floor of a tween’s pink bedroom, wearing a bumblebee costume and looking like another bee just got in her bonnet.

“That expression on my face was genuine,” she says. “It was not pleasurable as an adult to be in a bee costume. I wanted to be pretty on the cover, but in the end that’s just not what I’m good at. It’s not in my wheelhouse to look demure and glamorous.”

Being funny, however, definitely is. Since the Toronto native joined The Daily Show in 2003 as its first female correspondent, Bee has shown a tremendous talent for helping her interview subjects help themselves — look ridiculous, that is. In I Know I Am, she willingly turns the lens on her own life and adds a laugh track to what was not always the happiest of childhoods. Nor the best dressed: Between the white suede hot pants she wore the first day of first grade, the Bea Arthur–inspired free-flowing cream pantsuit she wore to her prom and the mint-green-oxford-shirt-and-madras-shorts combo she funded with criminal activities (more on that later), Bee easily could have titled her memoir Me Dress Pretty One Day.

“I enjoyed remembering what a dork I was, always have been and continue to be,” she says. “I love making fun of myself. I don’t think anyone can do it better than me.”

Bee also can’t imagine a job for which she’d be better suited than her current gig on The Daily Show. Always a gifted storyteller, Bee says her knack for wild exaggeration and penchant for exercising creative license sprang out of childhood necessity. “I was an only child living with adults,” she explains. “If you want to be a part of an adult conversation [and be taken seriously], you have to step it up a little.”

As often happens on The Daily Show, some of the real events that Bee shares in I Know I Am are more outrageous than any bit the most gifted comedy writers could make up. Take, for instance, her involvement in a Bonnie-and-Clyde-style teen crime team that stole everything from the major (cars) to the mundane (a stock pot, which she still has to this day).

“I made spaghetti in [that pot] last night,” she says. “I will never not have that pot; it will be the last thing I see here on this earth. I’ve paid my debt to society. My path was not easy. So damn it, I’m keeping that pot.”

Their Moments with Pen

A roundup of literary offerings from other Daily Show veterans.

America (The Book) : A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show
(Grand Central Publishing, $16)
The team behind The Daily Show’s award-winning Indecision election coverage penned this hilarious send-up of a high-school civics textbook, which targets politicians and historical figures alike.

Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black
(Riverhead Trade, $15)
Lewis Black, the resident ranter of The Daily Show, picks up where he left off with his 2005 memoir, Nothing’s Sacred, as he riffs on the religions of the world while struggling to understand his own relationship with God.

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
(Grand Central Publishing, $27)
Former Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert published this satirical spoof in which he spouts off his “most deeply held knee-jerk beliefs” on environmentalism, the American family and more, delivered in the highly entertaining manner of his high-status idiot persona.