When the new host of the Daily Show was announced, Americans had mixed reactions
On Monday, it was announced that Trevor Noah was going to take Jon Stewart’s place at the helm of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Word spread quickly throughout Social Media in a short period of time. His resume, as it turns out, is far more impressive than you might think. Still, the most anyone has to go on Mr. Noah are his few correspondent appearances on The Daily Show.
Trevor Noah is a well-known late-night talk show in South Africa. He’s done a handful of radio programs and the South African Music Awards. Noah also headlined a Showtime stand-up special last year and was the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman.
Naturally none of this mattered to many Americans, and hatred and outrage spewed forth instead. People on the left and right added their two cents about a man nobody really knows. Comments like; “Do we need a Nightly Show anymore?” “I’m sure it was an affirmative action appointment.” And of course, many more comments too disgusting to report here. The racial overtones were just the beginning.
Other comments were typical. The Daily Show has been going downhill for awhile, a female host should have been chosen, they should have picked someone with a better-known history on the show, yadda yadda yadda. Everyone has two things, opinions and, what else again?
Comments found on the Wall Street Journal were also what you would expect; “Mr. Noah is just your typical anti-American foreigner our media loves so much; at least he’s not a traitor like Stewart.” Typically charming conservative sentiment.
Regardless of all of this, making Trevor Noah the new host really is a great call. This is the first time in history that two late night shows are hosted, back to back, by black comedians. Larry Wilmore found success with The Nightly Show’s format of panel discussion, bringing other perspectives to various issues. It is fresh and funny.
Noah has the breadth of knowledge and experience that is needed to fill Jon Stewart’s humongous shoes. Growing up biracial (his father Swedish and his mother is African) in Apartheid-era South Africa until age 10, Noah experienced daily bullying. He was hidden by his parents as it was illegal for black and white people to be seen together. Other black children called him an albino for being light skinned. The color of his complexion is both how and why he grew thick skin. And America just proved why that’s necessary.
Noah speaks several languages, understands the complexities of America’s geopolitical interests, and can out-duel Jon Stewart in a political debate. Sounds promising. He has a razor sharp wit that any guest should be worried about. Hopefully, guests will brush up on their geography before going toe to toe with Noah.
Wilmore brings an American background and perspective. Growing up in Los Angeles, Wilmore’s understanding of the USA is different. He understands the domestic experience of all of us but can talk about controversial issues such as racial profiling and racial stereotypes. As well, he’s proven skilled at getting others to be honest, or “keeping it 100,” about their views. The Nightly Show also has more of a social twist to it and although political, does not have the one-two punch of Jon Stewart. It’s closer to pure entertainment.
When you look at it that way, Comedy Central is maintaining a lethal combination of late night television. Noah will lay the smack down on ignorance and deception (looking at you Fox News) while Wilmore cools things down with a more laid-back, but equally relevant, panel discussion/sketch comedy show. Neither program will resemble each other very much. Nobody makes a big deal if white comedians have shows back-to-back, after all, it happens all the time. Check your privilege and your prejudice, America.
Nobody is over Stephen Colbert’s departure but he’ll be back soon enough. Jon Stewart? He’s the question mark in this whole shake-up. Where is he going and what will he do? The future direction of the man with the Midas Touch, who has helped several friends and colleagues build careers as big if not larger than his own, remains a mystery.
As for Trevor Noah, he’s a well-played decision. Just as much as John Oliver was, as Stephen Colbert was, and as Larry Wilmore was. The Daily Show has a flawless record at turning its anchors into superstars. There may be controversy with their decisions, but they’ve proven repeatedly that they know what they’re doing.
There it is. Your moment of Zen.