Trevor Noah was named Monday morning as Jon Stewart’s replacement on the Daily Show. But though the comedian’s star has been rising in the past few years, he’s hardly the household name of some of the other possible contenders for the spot.
Noah is a South African comedian who rose largely through South African radio before deciding to focus on his comedy. A rising star in South Africa’s comedy scene, Noah has appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, including South Africa’s Rolling Stone and GQ:
In 2013 Noah began to break out of the South Africa circuit and make a name for himself globally, first with a Showtime one-man special called Trevor Noah: African American, then in a 2014 stand up tour called The Racist, in which Noah sent up his mixed heritage. “I was born a crime,” he said, referring to the prohibition against mixed marriages at the time of his birth; Noah is the son of a black South African mother and a Swiss father. “My mom could walk with me but every time the police went by she would drop me — I felt like a bag of weed.”
Noah is believed to be the first South African comedian to perform on The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. Despite this, he has only appeared on the Daily Show three times, having joined as an occasionally correspondent in October 2014. In the following clip about Boko Haram, Noah is entitled the “Senior International Correspondent,” and mocks the Eurocentrism of the western media:
In late 2014 CNN profiled him, and got insight into his comedic ethic:
“My ideal setting is I walk from the streets, backstage and straight onto the stage,” says Noah…”Two minutes and I am on the stage. That way in my head I have gone from my world and then into a social setting with my friends. I want my audience to be my friends — that is when they will get the best comedy. If they see me as a performer, they won’t get the best show.”
This willingness to confront squeamish issues like race head-on may have been Noah’s greatest quality in the hunt for Stewart’s replacement. As Larry Wilmore’s new show demonstrated, America provides no shortage of racially-charged topics for late night comedians who are willing to tackle it.
Noah has also been the subject of a bit of Twitter controversy (what self-respecting comedian hasn’t?) when he tweeted following the arrest of South African olympian Oscar Pistorius’ arrest, “And the Oscar goes to…jail.”
Watch more of Noah’s stand up below, via You Tube: At the Apollo in London:
On the Late Show with David Letterman in 2013:
[Image via screengrab]
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