Why You Should Get Excited About Trevor Noah Stepping Into Jon Stewart’s Shoes
Rise and shine and meet your new Daily Show host: Trevor Noah.Who is Trevor Noah? you may be asking yourself. Fair question. Noah has only appeared on The Daily Show three times. But his selection is a sign that Comedy Central understands the future of fake news, like the future of real news, is global.
Noah was born to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father whose marriage was illegal in Soweto, where he grew up during apartheid. In his standup, Noah mines his memories of being a biracial kid in South Africa, where his basic existence was a crime, for unlikely jokes. He’ll riff on how his mom would get fined and thrown into prison for the weekend for being with his white dad, or that his family couldn’t be seen together in public. Instead, his dad had to walk on the other side of the street and watch Noah from afar, “like a pedophile.” Noah’s mom couldn’t hold his hand in front of the police because they weren’t allowed to be a family; when the cops passed by, she would drop his hand. “It was hard for me. I felt like a bag of weed. It was a tough time.”
With the most obvious contenders spoken for — Stephen Colbert is taking over for David Letterman; Larry Wilmore is hosting The Nightly Show; HBO just renewed John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight for two more seasons — it felt like open season. Some even hoped that suspended-newsman Brian Williams might find his way to Comedy Central.
Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless did not name names of other individuals considered for the post. She told the New York Times that men and women were considered for the opening, and that “We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”
Frankly, the pitting of various marginalized, under-represented groups against each other for professional opportunities like the Daily Show gig helps no one. Women do not achieve progress by hoping for success at the expense of people of color; the opposite, and all variations on this theme, is just as true.
And though Noah is a relatively unfamiliar face, he’s not totally green. He’s performed on The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman — he was the first South African to appear on either program — and has done stand-up all over the U.S. and around the world for years. He spoke to the Times from Dubai, where he’s currently on tour.