I should probably start this review by saying that I am South African, and Trevor Noah hosting the Daily Show is a prolific moment for our country. I still remember the first time I went to watch Trevor Noah live, at a local theater in my city. It was packed to capacity and it was the first comedy show that I attended where the audience was that diverse. In a country where races and generations are so still so separated and opposed, Trevor Noah had something special, he had a way of relating to people regardless of their age, their gender, or their race, and that is the reason why he is so beloved. It is also the reason why I think he can bridge the gap for Americans as well.
Just from appearances it is difficult to fathom how a random comedian from Africa can take over the coveted position of the host of the Daily Show from the legend that is Jon Stewart, even though we are raised on a healthy dose of American politics and culture. But perhaps the time is ripe for Trevor Noah to baptize the US with his charisma and charm. He has the relatability, the intelligence, and the keenness to truly delve into what makes America tick and how to keep the tradition of the Daily Show whilst still refreshing it for the modern day audience. He is no Jon Stewart, and I doubt he ever would be. Jon came with a wealth of knowledge and experience when he sat in the seat, and he truly turned the Daily Show into an institution, but Trevor Noah has had the opportunity to learn from Jon Stewart, and John Oliver, and Larry Wilmore and all the other trailblazers lightening up late night television.
Trevor Noah began the show off with a monologue in where he laid tribute to the legacy of Jon Stewart, and interlinking to Jon’s final show whereby he said “There is very little you will encounter in life that is not infused with bullshit,” and Trevor Noah countered that by saying “thank you for joining us as we continue our war on bullshit.”
He also draws attention to the big critical questions about his appointment which is why Comedy Central did not hire a woman or an American, he responded that all the women and Americans that they approached turned the job down and he commented “Once more job Americans rejected is now being done by an immigrant.”
It is clear from both the writing and the topic choice of the episode that the writers of the new Daily Show attempted to play it safe, perhaps ease Trevor Noah into the big shoes, and the audience into all the changes that took place. As with every change in a well loved series, the audience is predisposed to hate the ‘new’ and that is perhaps why the show did not try and be exactly like Jon Stewart’s show, but it also did not sway too far away from what we are used to.
Noah tackled subjects such as the Pope’s arrival in the US, Speaker John Boehner’s resignation and the discovery of water on Mars assisted by correspondents Jordan Kleeper and Roy Wood Jr, providing that easy banter and comedic branch of ‘fake news’ that Jon and his correspondents perfected so well, Roy Wood Jr was especially hilarious. The topics in and of itself seemed light compared to what we’re used to on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, and as is customary I missed his hard handed tackling of them but Trevor Noah seemed to inject his charm and wit into the news stories to give a new but not entirely outlandish perspective on them, and I have to believe that this is a conscious decision by the writers and the producers not to rock the boat until the audience trusts Noah and his opinions.
Kevin Hart appeared as the special guest in the final segment of the episode, gifting Noah with a selection of ties and speaking about his brand of comedy and why it’s so successful.
In all, Noah has promise, which I think is the best we can hope for in a new host for the Daily Show, yes no one would ever be able to replace Jon Stewart but perhaps we need to allow Trevor Noah to bridge the gap to use his own brand of wit, intelligence and charisma to usher in a new age which will build on the foundation of Jon Stewart and grow into something that both America and the world needs. I often think back to that day in the theater watching Trevor Noah’s show and seeing white and black people laughing together, it might not be world peace but it’s a damn beautiful sight, and I hope that Americans will be able to witness that as well.