Our long national nightly nightmare is over: The Daily Show has picked its Jon Stewart replacement. Despite the recent exodus of long-time contributors like Samantha Bee and Jason Jones and the relatively unavailability of former stars like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central series has managed to lock down an actually (kind of) familiar face for the gig: newbie contributor Trevor Noah. Rumors of Noah’s hiring hit the wire late last week, and The New York Times now reports that Noah will indeed take over Stewart’s job when the beloved host leaves later this year (as of now, it’s unclear when that transfer will actually happen).
Despite the seemingly shocking news of Stewart’s departure back in February, the long-term host’s decision to step down came as little surprise to anyone aware of Stewart’s obvious interest in focusing his attentions on filmmaking (Stewart, quite memorably, took time off from the show to make his Rosewater, allowing fill-in host Oliver to really show off his skills behind the desk) and the somewhat diminished energy he brought to the nightly series upon his return. Also not shocked by the news? Comedy Central, which reportedly had a short list of possible replacements already on hand. The search for a replacement has been mostly low-key, despite the twisting of a persistent rumor that Jessica Williams could take over into something as gross as this piece (that this post is filed under “sexist bullshit” still sets my blood on fire – what’s more sexist than assuming a professional woman doesn’t have a handle on her own career?). But anyway!
So who is Trevor Noah? He’s a thirty-one-year-old South African comedian who has only appeared on The Daily Show three times since December, but he’s also uniquely qualified for a job that requires both humor and authority in equal measure.
Noah first joined The Daily Show late last year, when a markedly excited Steward introduced him as a new contributor to the show. Stewart didn’t go to deep into Noah’s background during his first introduction, but the South African native has quite a varied resume, including turns on a soap opera, his own radio show, an educational program (perfect, right?), a variety of hosting gigs (from gossip outings to sports shows, dating shows to a dance competition), and a ton of stand-up gigs. Noah may be young, but he’s already tried his hand at a mess of different formats that speak to the needs of his new job: hosting and comedy with a timely edge (for Noah, much of his humor hinges on issues of race, which suits The Daily Show just fine).
Here is Noah’s first appearance on the show, from back in December, during which the comedian showed off a love for bad puns and an ability to poke fun at mostly horrific topics like apartheid, Ebola, and the state of the American infrastructure:
In January, Noah returned to the show to discuss Boko Haram – and the general lack of awareness surrounding the terrorism organization’s worst crimes in Africa – in a manner that so gently walked the line between funny and genuinely upsetting that it was, quite honestly, hard to shake.
Earlier this month, Noah reported on America’s plans to buy foreign chess masters – nerd-cenaries, as Stewart deemed them – in order to win important chess competitions against other countries more capable of actually breeding and raising wily chess players:
Noah turned his professional focus to comedy a few years ago, and his YouTube page is filled with plenty of videos from his stand-up routines, including hits from his two best-known specials, “Trevor Noah: The Racist” and “Trevor Noah: African American.” Here are some samples:
In 2012, Noah was even the subject of his very own documentary, You Laugh But It’s True, which basically describes his brand of humor to a tee. The film chronicles the lead-up to Noah’s very first one-man show, and oh look, you can watch it on Netflix right now. Need more? Our own former contributor Matt Patches points us to this 2013 interview with Noah from The Leonard Lopate Show. Noah may be young, but he’s also got an enviable resume and a fearless ability to poke fun at (and holes in) news items that would make other comedians uncomfortable – and that’s exactly what The Daily Show requires.