It was a weird surprise to wake up to Trevor Noah being the top trend on Twitter in America, especially since he’s off performing in the Middle East, but if The New York Times is to be believed, it’s because he’s taking over from Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. Stewart’s been a titan in the world of late-night talk shows, having hosted for the entirety of the 21st century thus far (and then some), so Noah clearly has big shoes to fill, but he might just be the right kind of person to fill them.
Also trending on Twitter as usual is #ManCrushMonday, so here’s to Noah’s charm, his mischievous smile and his ability to captivate, but what puts him in an interesting position when it comes to hosting one of the new staples of American late-night is that he isn’t American. We’ve seen how that’s worked out for Englishman and former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver, who’s been making waves over on HBO with Last Week Tonight, and Noah’s no stranger to these waters either, having made a couple of appearances on the show himself. Much of his comedy is informed by his multi-cultural, multi-ethnic background, and his travels to and across America. Having grown up as the son of a white man and a black woman in apartheid South Africa, his experiences mirror many of the things going on here today, from questions of immigration and cultural identity, to issues of race and police brutality. That’s not all he’s capable of talking about, though; his stand-up special African American features some sweet, sweet airline humor. However, my white American friends who are familiar with his work have each said it gave them a new outlook on their own experiences and the experiences of the people around them, which is really the best thing about the guy.
His special also has a bit about how growing up mixed in South Africa meant he was never accepted as either black or white, and one of his reasons for wanting to travel to America was because he’s considered black here. For a nation founded on immigrants being able to come over and establish a distinct identity, that’s a beautiful thing in 2015. That bit from his special is expanded upon in You Laugh, But It’s True, a documentary about his early life and the South African stand-up scene, both of which can be found on Netflix. I’m about to re-watch the doc right now! If you aren’t subscribed, his performance at London’s Apollo theatre should be somewhere on YouTube.
Oh, and as expected, the web racists are out in full force this morning, worried about the fact that he’s going to be seen back-to-back with The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore, who has actually been doing some really interesting things with the format. Personally I’m curious as to whether or not we’ll still see the outspoken Jessica Williams stick around to balance Noah’s coy demeanor (she was my pick to take over hosting duties) because they’d make a pretty amazing team. It’s about time we got a woman to host one of these things, but in the meantime I’m going to be more than happy with Noah’s involvement, and with the fact that Comedy Central will play regular host to multiple people of colour and their perspectives on hot-button issues. Don’t worry, if that idea makes you uncomfortable, you’re probably Noah’s target audience.
Anyway, here’s a clip of him talking about sports!