With less than two weeks to go, the countdown has begun to Noah’s highly-anticipated debut on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central (Tuesday 29 September at 21h00, DStv channel 122).
It’s a gigantic move for Noah, as he steps into the shoes of acclaimed Daily Show alumnus Jon Stewart, who left the show in August after 16 years at the helm.
Explains Evert van der Veer, Head of Comedy Central, Africa: “Comedy Central’s flagship show is a modern comedy institution and although billed as a ‘fake news programme’, is widely regarded as the most politically influential comedy programme on television. Trevor’s appointment continues to make headlines around the world, and as the first African ever to host a US late-night TV franchise, his debut will shine a light on the power of South African comedy and comedians.”
With two million Twitter followers, early converts such as Eddie Izzard singing his praises, and highly successful showcases at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, Noah was far from unknown when he made his move to America in 2011. He had hosted numerous television shows, including his own late-night talk show Tonight with Trevor Noah, in South Africa.
Noah, 31, toured 40 American states with the aim, he said, of “learning America”. In African American, he speaks about his admiration for American black culture and his efforts to blend in.
He made his American television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman (describing his experience of being mistaken for an Hispanic in the US), becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late-night show.
Noah made his first appearance on The Daily Show in December 2014 as an on-air contributor offering his outsider’s perspective, as a bi-racial South African, on the US. One acutely observed remark, made in the aftermath of police shootings of an unarmed black teenager in the US, was: “I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa. It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home.”
Following Noah’s appointment as host of The Daily Show, Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless said in an interview: “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job. 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 to the programme. And Trevor’s super, super funny.”
Noah, now regarded as the African continent’s most famous comic, was born to a black mother and a white father 10 years before apartheid ended. (“I was born a crime,” he said on Leno.) When he was little, his mother walked ahead of him and pretended not to know him if she saw the police (“I felt like a bag of weed”), while his father, he says, walked on the other side of the street, waving to him “like a creepy paedophile”.
Noah’s earliest comedy riffs were autobiographical. He says he learned as a child that the only tolerable way to tell his story, even to himself, was as a joke.
After a starring role on the local soapie Isidingo in 2002 when he was 18, Noah began hosting his own radio show, Noah’s Ark, on Yfm. Noah then went on to host the educational series Run The Adventure from 2004 to 2006 on SABC2. In 2007 he hosted The Real Goboza, a gossip show on SABC1, and Siyadlala, a sports show which also aired on the SABC.
In 2008, Noah co-hosted alongside Pabi Moloi on The Amazing Date and was a Strictly Come Dancing contestant in Season 4. In 2009 he hosted the third annual South Africa Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) and co-hosted alongside Eugene Khoza on The Axe Sweet Life, a reality competition series.
As his career progressed, Noah began to focus exclusively on comedy and has performed alongside stellar South African comedians such as David Kau, Kagiso Lediga, Riaad Moosa, Darren Simpson, Marc Lottering, Barry Hilton and Nik Rabinowitz, and international comedians such as Paul Rodriguez, Carl Barron, Dan Ilic and Paul Zerdin. He was booked as the opening act for Gabriel Iglesias in November 2007, and subsequently opened for Canadian comedian Russell Peters on his South African tour.
In 2010, Noah hosted the 16th annual South African Music Awards and also hosted Tonight with Trevor Noah. In an early brush with Comedy Central, Noah was appointed as “Roastmaster” for the first ever African Roast, The Comedy Central Roast of Steve Hofmeyr, in 2012.
Noah names Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle among his comedic influences: “Those are the guys that have laid the foundation and have moved the yard stick for all comedians, not just black comedians.”
When it comes to fashion, Trevor is partial to Tiger of Sweden, though in a pinch a Hugo Boss suit fits him off the rack. In a recent article published in Vogue he says he’s been putting himself through something of a crash course in contemporary American social thought; books on his nightstand over the summer included Mating in Captivity, SuperFreakonomics, Outliers, and a biography of JFK.
Noah is a polyglot: he speaks several languages including English, German, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans.
Noah explains how he sees The Daily Show going forward: “It’ll be like a face-lift. I’m a big fan of The Daily Show, and that’s what it’s still gonna be. It’s still gonna be The Daily Show. It’s the same way, when Fallon took over from Leno, it’s still The Tonight Show.”
He continues: “It’s a very different world going from South African comedy to the US, but at the end of the day comedy is comedy – you just have to find the right rhythm to speak to people; that’s what really changes, the rhythm from one city or country to the next. It is a jump, but it’s a jump you have to get used to if you are a comedian.”
And when he makes his first appearance on 29 September, the whole of South Africa will be rooting for him.
To celebrate the upcoming debut of Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show, DStv and Comedy Central are opening the channel to DStv Compact customers for the first week of broadcast (28 September to 2 October).
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will air Tuesdays to Fridays on Comedy Central, at 21h00 from Tuesday 29 September, just 24 hours after the live US premiere. Comedy Central will be running, full catch-up episodes of The Daily Show from 30 September online at www.comedycentralafrica.com.
On social media, viewers can follow The Daily Show on Twitter (currently with four million followers) and Trevor Noah (currently with 2.5 million followers) and also by becoming a fan of The Daily Show on Facebook (currently at five million fans) and Instagram (currently at 139k followers).
Find out more by logging onto www.comedycentralafrica.com,or follow Comedy Central on [email protected], Instagram at ComedyCentralAF, and like Comedy Central on Facebook at www.facebook.com/
McDonald’s is the official South African sponsor of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will air in South Africa the day after the US date.
Channel: Comedy Central (Dstv Channel 122)
Date: Tuesday 29th September