TORONTO — As the White House Correspondents Association dinner takes place sans U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, non-attendees will have another gala option — complete with T-shirt cannons and fiery political commentary.
The late-night news satire show "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" will hold the "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" gala in Washington, D.C., at the same time as the official correspondents event.
The Toronto native's show will be taped and air later that night (at 10 p.m. ET) on The Comedy Network.
"We're the sister event, I would say, to the other dinner," said Allana Harkin, a Canadian co-producer and correspondent on "Full Frontal."
"Every penny that we raise from that evening still goes to the Committee to Protect Journalists.... The reason why we're doing it is, as you may have heard, the president of the United States doesn't love journalists. We didn't know how much that event was going to be supported, so we wanted to make sure that we had an event that night that was really in celebration of all the journalists that we admire and we respect and whose work we actually use all the time."
Harkin said their event expects to lure in about 2,000 attendees, including "Veep" cast members and "lots of amazing journalists." It will include "a very special cold open," pre-taped field pieces and will be "in the same spirit" as the weekly show.
"There was an email that went out ... it said, 'Is it possible to get extra T-shirt guns for the night?'" she said with a laugh.
"Because I do a warm-up for all of the shows and I have a T-shirt gun, but that's for 200 people. We're going to have 2,000 people at our event, so it's going to be a big giant party."
The T-shirts, by the way, are not the typical "man's T-shirt that you'll never, ever wear," she added excitedly.
"Ours are ladies T-shirts with a V-neck and they're nicely fitted and they actually look good on you."
Given the constant stream of news flowing from Trump and his administration these days, Harkin expected they would be shaping the content of the dinner "up until the last minute."
Trump turned down his invitation to the official correspondents' dinner in February. He now plans to hold a rally in Pennsylvania on the same night to mark his 100th day in office.
"He's the only president since (Ronald) Reagan who is refusing to go, and the only reason Reagan didn't go is because there was an attempt made on his life and he was recovering," said Harkin.
"Full Frontal" airs Wednesdays on The Comedy Network and tries to "find stories that not everybody knows about," said Harkin, who first met Bee in an all-female Canadian comedy troupe.
"I think we're changing the conversation a little bit," she said. "In the beginning it was very focused on the fact that Sam was a woman — 'Oh my gosh, she's a woman, and you're going to give her a microphone, that's crazy! In late night?'
"It's just preposterous to me that — I know that Chelsea Handler had a show — but in this arena, that she's one of the first women doing this is insane to me. And that strikes us all the time.
"But then again, I've been a comedian for almost 20 years. I've heard women aren't funny over and over and over again. But the thing that's great about being a woman, when you finally get your own space and you've worked so hard to get into that space, you have a lot to say."
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press