Trevor Noah, the South African-born comedian, made his debut as the new host of The Daily Show on Monday September 28 — or what Twitter called #TrevorDay. Noah is leading The Daily Show into a new era filled with more emphasis on social media and expanding further than cable news networks — as well as a more international perspective on current affairs.
In his opening monologue, Noah sent a clear message: although he is grateful to Stewart, he is not Uncle Jon. He said, “I can assume that this is as strange for you as it is for me. Jon Stewart was more than just a late-night host. He was often our voice, our refuge, and in many ways, our political dad. And it’s weird, because Dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new stepdad — and he’s black. Which is not ideal.”
Noah made the usual casual stroll through the day’s topics by opting out of the obvious choice of covering Syria and instead going for coverage of the Pope’s visit to the USA. Next up, he lamented the resignation of John Boehner, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, saying that he is leaving just as Trevor learned how to pronounce Boehner’s name. Lastly, he touched on the discovery of water on Mars, which Noah used to poke fun at California’s drought problems.
He’s young, attractive, funny, and not afraid to be honest, even if it unsettles his viewers a bit. Noah clearly did not play it safe and decided to point out one of America’s woes: “Once more a job Americans rejected is now being done by an immigrant,” he said.
Even though there will be naysayers who will tear him apart and deem him a failed replacement, I believe that Trevor Noah’s debut was successful. The essentials were all there, and the writing delivered the expected satirical outlook and thorough analysis on current affairs. One of my favourite bits was when Noah thanked Jon Stewart and promised he would try to not make Jon Stewart seem like a “crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid from Africa.”
The structure of the new show is pretty much aligned with the old one. Apart from a new desk and set, Noah retained much of Stewart’s staff, the show’s theme music and its format, right down to closing with a moment of zen. It was refreshing to see him deliver the moment of zen standing up instead of in Stewart’s sit down style, as well, the subtle difference of including profanity is a change I welcome.
As host and executive producer of the show, Noah has a hand in writing and approving jokes and setting the tone. Through time, seasoned viewers of The Daily Show will learn of his comic point of view. Jon Stewart had 16 years to build The Daily Show into a sharp commentator of current affairs and a prestigious institution for journalism. We clearly can’t judge Noah too harshly during his debut.
Trevor Noah has the potential to bring a new edge to an already edgy television show — instead of feeding us a nostalgic recipe of exasperated social commentary, he can start giving us his renowned global take on current events.