Guy Nobody Has Heard of Replacing Jon Stewart as Daily Show Host
Trevor Noah will be the next host of The Daily Show. Who's Trevor Noah? Exactly.
Trevor Noah will be the next host of The Daily Show. Who’s Trevor Noah? Exactly.
NYT (“Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on ‘The Daily Show‘”):
In December, Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian, made his debut as an on-air contributor on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” offering his outsider’s perspective, as a biracial South African, on the United States.
“I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa,” he said with a smile. “It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home.”
Now, after only three appearances on that Comedy Central show, Mr. Noah has gotten a huge and unexpected promotion. On Monday, Comedy Central will announce that Mr. Noah has been chosen as the new host of “The Daily Show,” succeeding Mr. Stewart after he steps down later this year.
While I’m a fairly regular view of the show, I don’t believe I’ve seen any of Noah’s three segments. They must have been pretty awesome.
The appointment of Mr. Noah, a newcomer to American television, promises to add youthful vitality and international perspective to “The Daily Show.” It puts a nonwhite performer at the head of this flagship Comedy Central franchise, and one who comes with Mr. Stewart’s endorsement.
“I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Mr. Stewart said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.” Mr. Stewart added that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”
But the decision also invites questions about Mr. Noah’s experience and visibility (or lack thereof), and why the network did not choose a woman to crack the all-male club of late-night television hosts.
Michele Ganeless, the Comedy Central president, said in an interview: “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”
Ms. Ganeless added: “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.”
There has been a lot of speculation about the new host, with a lot of speculation around current cast members. Aasif Mandvi would have been my choice, with John Oliver and Larry Wilmore having already moved on to host their own shows. There has also been something of a groundswell for Jessica Williams, who I don’t particularly care for; she’s extremely young and here selection would have put an African American woman into the role. Regardless, Noah is an interesting choice:
In his standup routines, Mr. Noah comes across as a self-assured polyglot with an international perspective.
As he joked in a 2013 comedy set on “Late Show With David Letterman,” Mr. Noah said that he did not like being introduced as a comedian from Africa, as if he represented the entire continent. “They make it sound like a guy in leopard skin’s going to come running on the stage,” he said.
Mr. Noah said in his phone interview, “I didn’t live a normal life – I grew up in a country that wasn’t normal.”
He grew up in Soweto, the son of a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father, whose union was illegal during the apartheid era. “My mother had to be very clandestine about who my father was,” Mr. Noah said. “He couldn’t be on my birth certificate.”
By the time he started performing stand-up in his 20s, Mr. Noah said he had long been taught that “speaking freely about anything, as a person of color, was considered treason.”
His globetrotting spirit (and ability to speak six languages) set him apart in comedy, and he performed widely in the United States between 2010 and 2012, eventually coming to Mr. Stewart’s attention about two years ago.
When Mr. Stewart announced his plans to depart “The Daily Show,” Ms. Ganeless said that Comedy Central quickly drew up “a shortlist” of possible successors “and Trevor checked off every box on that list and then some.”
“He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful,” she added. “He’s truly a student of the world.”
Ultimately, hosting the show–at least if it retains its current format–requires much more than comedic chops. The anchor has to be quick on his feet and form a connection with the audience. Being in someone’s living room four nights a week is different than doing a few bits here and there. We’ll see if Noah can pull that off.