as host amber ruffin show, Peacock’s late-night series, Amber Ruffin breathes new life into the genre with her smart and silly news stories combined with her fresh perspective on world events that are often not heard anywhere else on screen . Whether it’s through song — and there are a lot of originals that she puts out every week — or recurring segments like, “How did we get here?Ruffin created her own streaming series Appointment TV as she tackles everything from racial institutions in America to sitting down with Broadway’s best and brightest.
Now that the series has kicked off another successful season with a finale in which the host and her sister, Lacey Lamarr, are seen fangirling over El DeBarge while she tries to keep it quiet while interviewing Cynthia Erivo , Ruffin told ET what he’s achieved with the series, writing jokes for the 2022 Tony Awards and being recognized by an Emmy.
ET: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, especially after finishing Season 2. What’s it like knowing you’ve made it through another season?
Amber Ruffin: It feels good. I can’t believe we did. It felt like you achieved something and two seasons are nothing.
How do you feel about what you have been able to do with the series so far and how is it with the audience?
I’m always worried: are we telling the truth? And, are we getting the most? Those are really my two priorities. like, do I and [announcer] Tariq Davis having a blast? Are the writers having fun? You know, ‘Cause I think a lot of people do comedy and still get sad. And honestly, I have no idea how they do it. Like, I can see if you were probably a surgeon and you come home at the end of the day to be like, “Oh man, I messed up. Oh my god.” And your head is in your hands and you are all sad. How you do this after telling jokes is beyond my comprehension. So, I think we’ve come to this business to party. so do we.
You mentioned the idea of telling the truth as one of the things you felt you achieved besides having fun and I was just curious, what does that mean for you when you’re putting on the show?
We always try to focus on the things that no one else is saying, ’cause I think this is the biggest opportunity we have. I mean, if you’re going to say what everyone else is saying, what’s the point? But when you hear someone say what you’ve been thinking, you know, for the past week, it feels great and it’s valid and it makes you feel less crazy. And, you know, that’s what I want to give people. I want them to feel a little less crazy.
Is this idea of telling the truth what inspired the section, “How did we get here?” For me, it is one of my favorite parts of the show. And I always like to see where you go with it, what topics you explore and what kind of table you bring each week.
Our “How did we get here?” The segments have a crazy origin story. Like, we all follow Michael Harriott on Twitter, And you know, he’s a writer who writes about little known black history facts and his threads are always so enlightening. I thought how great it would be if we could do something like this on the show. And then it was probably [executive producer] Jenny Hegel who was like, “Okay, let’s call him and see if he’ll do it.” So, then when we did. And he was like, “Yeah.” And then every horrible week he was like, “Do you want to do this, this or this?” And they are all, like, some terrifying yet satisfying facts about black history. It’s great to be able to give this to people, to give us history no one will tell us but we deserve to know about.
The season 2 finale was quite special. Looking at it, it seemed that you are just having so much fun. And I was just curious, where did the inspiration behind having El DeBarge on the show come from?
Me and my sister who loves El DeBarge – Lacey is in love with El DeBarge. Like, when we were kids – and it’s true – we used to say our prayers at night and Lacey would include El DeBarge in her prayers. And I would go, “Dad, he’s not allowed to do that. You just can’t do that.” And dad would be like, “You can pray for anyone you want.” But yeah, Lacey is obsessed with that and we dedicated our book to [You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism] To L DeBarge.
So, like, we’re so obsessed with him that love for him has become his own thing. And then when he showed up, man, I never let my knees fall on me like this. I f**king flopped against the wall, I was so close to being passed out. I didn’t know you could do that. My knees, both of them stopped working out of love.
Was he aware of your deep fantasy and book dedication before he arrived?
Yes, because I didn’t want him to reach there and get scared. So, I made sure to tell him, you know, to what extent it goes, and I think other people have seen that the book was dedicated to him and tell him. So, I don’t think he was too scared.
I loved the quiz show you both did with her. What did he think about it? Especially considering that he could not find answers to any questions about himself.
How dare he even try? I think he knew it was going to be tough, but he’s also, like, a cool guy and winning a game show about himself means no less to him. But for me and Lacey, it was very important and you could see us smelling those buzzes as much as we could f**king. it was very nice. it was the best.
It was great fun seeing Pure Fantasy come out. I also loved your interview with Cynthia Erivo. You don’t often have guests, so what was it like to be on the show?
Well, I had never met him before Sunday. I had never met Tony before. And I met him in Tonys and was good. Stacy, you would have been so proud. I was chill as f**k. And we took a picture and I talked to her as normal and then the next day, I was texting with Lena White, who was like, “You should put her on your show.” And it never occurred to me that I could. And so, I asked him and he said yes. And I was thrilled.
It’s so funny because I couldn’t be like, “You’re famous for this,” because she’s not. There are 40,000 things, each more impressive than the last. I couldn’t even include it all. I was like, “Well, you’re just everything.”
Given that you’ve done more interviews with Cynthia, Vanessa Williams, and Jackal Spivey over the past few episodes, are we going to see more in Season 3? Do you want to have more guests in the future?
First, fingers crossed for Season 3. And of course, if we get Season 3, we’ll definitely be doing more interviews because it’s a lot of fun. I honestly didn’t think it would be that much fun. And that’s why we didn’t do it before. I thought it would be weird. I thought they would always have people I didn’t know or didn’t care about. And then I realized that I liked everyone. To me it’s just too stupid to be like, “Well, what if I don’t like them?” ‘Cause I’m yet to meet that person. So, I think we’ll continue that, yes, because I want more friends.
It’s also funny how three of your guests were Broadway stars and how much of a fan of the theater you are. [In addition to writing for this year’s Tony Awards, she’s also adapting Some Like It Hot for Broadway.] What was it like contributing to Ton? What was your one joke like putting it on air? Did it feel different?
Let me tell you what the difference is between a Broadway singer singing a song written by you. Like, this is crazy. I wrote a song about going to the audience and when [Ariana DeBose] Singing it, I could die of madness. I couldn’t believe it. It felt great.
I can only imagine. going back to amber ruffin showYou said that you hoped it would return for Season 3. If it does, what do you expect to do with it going forward?
If it comes back, we’ll have a lot of fun. I don’t know If it comes back, I hope we keep doing the same thing. I think we’ll continue to interview the people we love. Who knows? I mean, I’m very open.
Lastly, I also have to ask about the Emmys. In Season 1, your team was nominated for writing. But I’m curious, you know, what would it mean to see amber ruffin show Find yourself nominated in the Variety Sketch category or recognized once again?
I would be very thrilled. I mean, when we were first nominated, you know, we’re all looking for late night with seth [Meyers] Because Jenny and I write Seth, And so, that’s what we were looking for. And we were like, “Oh well, we didn’t get nominated.” Then we went about our day and a few minutes later, Jenny called me and said, “Will you check out the websites for the different authors?” We were there and I thought, “Oh no, they made a mistake.” How little did I expect of this? But we were torn to pieces. So, yeah, if we were nominated for the second year in a row, I swear to god, I’d f**king lose it.
amber ruffin show Now streaming on Peacock.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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