When The Amber Ruffin Show‘s host, writer and EP Amber Ruffin stopped by Deadline’s Contenders Television on Saturday, she explained that a key component of her mission with the Peacock late-night series has been “to try to de-gaslight America.”
“When people are like, ‘Oh, children shouldn’t learn about gay people,’ that’s nuts. And some adult has to be like, ‘No, no. What you’re saying is absolute garbage,'” Ruffin explained in conversation with Deadline’s Peter White. “I think that’s an absolutely important part of society that is missing…I just think [people] used to be very delicate with treating certain classes of people like garbage, but now they’re pretty direct—and I think because of that, we all have to be direct.”
While calling out those responsible for such gaslighting and addressing a range of heavy topics, including “various Black injustices,” via segments like “How Did We Get Here,” it’s been important for Ruffin to keep the show both “really silly” and “really fast.”
“I’m naturally that, and I think I’m naturally that because I do love tackling those hard topics,” said Ruffin, “[but in order to] tackle hard topics in this world, s**t must get very silly very frequently.”
During her appearance at Contenders TV, Ruffin reflected on the experience of being one of just three Black female late-night hosts on TV—the others being Sam Jay (of HBO’s Pause with Sam Jay) and Ziwe (who hosts Showtime’s series of the same name). “I f***ing love those girls. They’re two of my favorite folks on planet Earth, and their shows are incredible,” she said. “I also think I’m great, so I think out of the box—bam, bam, bam—were three f***ing excellent shows. It just made me feel so proud.”
Currently in its second season, The Amber Ruffin Show launched amid the Covid pandemic, with Ruffin performing for a small crew and no audience. In a sense, the first season then became a dry run, allowing the host and her team “a chance to get on our feet.”
As someone with an improv background who is used to performing for very small crowds, it’s been gratifying for Ruffin to be able to bring in a full audience during the show’s second go-round—an experience that she’s admittedly still getting used to. “That’s nuts, dude, because we used to just say whatever we wanted and imagine laughter. But now, it really matters what you say and do,” Ruffin said. “This is a crazy thing to say but every time I go out there, I’m just like, ‘Oh my god, there are 300 people here. This is insane.'”
Ruffin’s show—produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, and Sethmaker Shoemeyers Productions—debuted on Peacock in September of 2020. Ruffin exec produces it with Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.
Check out the panel video above.
Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion and Tidelli.
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