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'Full Frontal' correspondents are serious about apologizing for Trump

"Full Frontal's" Allana Harkin and Ashley Nicole Black have said sorry countless times over the past two weeks....

Posted: Jan. 24, 2018 2:45 PM
Updated: Jan. 25, 2018 2:22 AM

"Full Frontal's" Allana Harkin and Ashley Nicole Black have said sorry countless times over the past two weeks.

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The correspondents have been traveling the globe, apologizing to as many people as possible for President Trump.

Host Samantha Bee will reveal the "winner" of the "Full Frontal" apology race during Wednesday's episode.

CNN recently caught up with the comediennes, who also write for and produce Bee's weekly late-night show.

From DACA recipients to Hurricane Maria survivors, Harkin and Black said there were plenty of folks ready to hear some remorse -- even if it wasn't from the president himself.

The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

CNN: Tell me about the Apology Race. Where did you go and what sort of reaction did you receive?

Allana: We got varied reactions and we apologized to all different kinds of people who were dealing with things that basically Trump has laid on them in the past year. Actually, that's not true. In the past two weeks I've had to remind myself of that once in a while. These are things he's said or done in just the past two weeks.

Ashley: When the segment was originally pitched, I thought, 'Oh, that sounds like fun. We'll sort of pretend to race around.' But we really are racing around. I've just been carrying a clean pair of underwear around with me because I never know if I have to leave.

CNN: What was your favorite place to visit?

Allana: I went to Puerto Rico for four hours. Sometimes when we do man-on-the-street interviews, people are quite reserved. They're not sure what you're going to ask them. But in Puerto Rico, people were just coming up to the camera and saying, 'Let's talk!' They were so full of life. They were very forthcoming about the issues they were having and have had for a long time. They would say, 'Great, the hurricane is bringing attention to our country, but we've had a corrupt government for much longer that's caused many more issues.' It was very funny because when I said, 'I'm sorry,' they would say, 'Thank you. We believe we should be apologized too so go for it.'

Ashley: It was really interesting because people really do have a story they want told. To one woman, I just yelled at her, 'I'm sorry about Trump!' And she stopped on the street and said, 'Don't apologize to me about Trump. I don't care about that.' Then she told me about the local school board issue that was bothering her and that no one was taking care of.

CNN: It seems like every other day, there's a new crisis in Washington. Was the apology tour in any way cathartic?

Allana: I don't know if I would say it was cathartic only because it's one thing to say you're sorry. It's another to say, 'I'm sorry, and guess what, I have some really good news. Here's the plan that's going to help you so you don't get deported.' We were busy enough that we didn't have to worry about a nuclear war so that felt good. But that's it.

Ashley: Cathartic is not the word I would use. It was very nice to connect to people. I spoke to DACA recipients who are so young, and it was such a scary and painful situation. They're so smart and know everything about immigration law. A 19-year-old kid who's directly affected by the situation knows significantly more about it than the president. I wish the people in charge had a desire to speak with these Dreamers and see how amazing and powerful and smart and necessary they are.

CNN: I think the show speaks to a lot of women and says things that a lot of women wish they could say. Much of that is to your credit not just as correspondents, but also as writers and producers of the show. What drives your creative process?

Ashley: I think it's just things we care about. When we were hiring for the show, we really did curate a very diverse group of people, so if everybody brings in stories that they personally care about, you've got a wide range of really interesting things. Everyone who works on our show is so smart and so engaged and actually interested in making the world a better place in addition to being funny.

Allana: Sam doesn't approach any topic lightly. She's been in late night for a really long time. Before she started 'Full Frontal,' there were lots of things she couldn't go that deep into because it simply wasn't her show. Now, she decides how deep we're going to go, who we're going to talk to and which topics are really inspiring to people. You think one thing when you go into the entertainment business and this show offers us a whole other world that's so deep but can be really difficult. I've never cried more on a job in my life. Like, I thought I was signing up for a comedy show!

CNN: When it comes to crying at your job, that's what it feels like to be a journalist every day.

(laughter)

CNN: When 'Full Frontal' first premiered in 2016, the recurring storyline was 'Samantha Bee, the only woman in late night.' Two years later, what should everyone be talking about when it comes to your boss and the show?

Ashley: I think it should be 'the only show in late night who's talking about 'X.'' For example, someone did a little study, and we talked about reproductive rights more than any of the network news stations during the campaign and by a large amount. We've talked about child sexual assault, child marriage, reproductive rights -- all of these issues that affect a lot of people. And they don't just affect women. When women can't find a safe place to give birth, that's not a woman problem. That's an everybody-in-the-country problem. These aren't easy things to make funny. It's a real challenge for us as writers to write about those things in a way that people are still going to laugh.

Allana: The other thing that we're able to do that a journalist can't do is we can tell a story, and at the end of it, we can say, 'And f*** that guy!'

(laughter)

Allana: And I tell you, that is extremely cathartic. That's extremely cathartic for our audience who's watching a story they saw covered in the morning news, but at the same time, Sam is going, 'And this guy is a total douchebag.' And Sam isn't the only woman in late night. Robin Thede has an amazing show [on BET], which I watch religiously and love. I hope everyone else does too.

CNN: There's been a lot of talk about bad bosses in recent months, so what's Samantha really like to work with?

Ashley: I would say the one thing about Sam is her lunch. She makes really stinky lunches and she eats them during meetings, and we have to smell them. And that's really my only complaint.

CNN: What kind of lunches are these?

Ashley: She does a lot of putting kale in a microwave in a room full of people.

(laughter)

CNN: Oh my god, that's a huge no-no at work.

Allana: It's true, or she'll make a pot of chili on a Sunday, and she'll eat it every single day for lunch. So by Thursday, even you're sick of her lunch and you haven't tasted it.

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