In an announcement confirming recent speculation, South African comedian Trevor Noah has been named as the successor to Jon Stewart. After sixteen years of entertaining and thought provoking comedy, Stewart will be stepping down later this year, leaving a gaping hole in the world of political satire just as the 2016 presidential cycle is warming up.
The selection of Noah came as a surprise to many who regard him as an untested novice who cannot possibly fill Stewart’s shoes. That assessment comes from ignorance because a little research reveals that Noah is an accomplished performer who sells out shows around the world and has even hosted his own late night program in South Africa. He is also a smart observer of culture and politics who speaks several languages.
Some critics are pointing out that Noah has only appeared on the Daily Show three times. However, that is not a prerequisite for becoming host. Jon Stewart had never appeared on the Daily Show prior to his selection as host. Yet he leap-frogged a correspondent already working there named Stephen Colbert.
Noah’s personal journey holds promise for a unique perspective on American politics and media. He jokes that he was “born a crime,” which is actually no joke. His mother was a black South African and his father a white man from Switzerland. Under the racist Apartheid regime it was literally against the law for them get married and have children. Nevertheless, Noah transcended the harsh realities of his youth in Soweto to become a successful entertainer. No doubt America’s mush-brained birthers will note the parallels with Kenyan-born Barack Obama’s mixed-race heritage.
The future of the Daily Show is still in doubt. There have been rumors circulating that Comedy Central wants to take the program in a less political direction. That would be huge mistake from a business perspective because they would be abandoning a large and loyal audience that Stewart spent sixteen years building. But worse, it would be huge loss for the state of satire on television. There are few other places where it is available in such quantity and quality.
The selection of Noah suggests that the network may intend to maintain the current theme of the show. And Noah has praised the current production staff, which hopefully signals an intention to retain the writers and producers that have contributed so much to the show’s success.
After the departure of Colbert, Comedy Central made an inspired choice to give the timeslot to Larry Wilmore. Unfortunately, they delivered a program that doesn’t have the energy and edginess of its predecessor. Replacing an expertly scripted and rehearsed comedy program with one that is mostly a panel of talking heads could not possibly live up to the iconic stature of the Colbert Report. [More on that here]
Reaction to Noah’s selection has been mostly positive, citing his youth and international outlook as assets that could expand the audience and make it relevant to a new generation. Ironically, those are the same qualities that some critics are citing as drawbacks. In a hilarious critique by the cretins at Breitbart News, editor-in-chief Joel Pollack complains that Noah will be limited by “his specialty in racial and ethnic humor,” and that the new show “probably won’t last more than six months on the air.” But the Breitbrats have been trash-talking the Daily Show for years. So it comes as no surprise that Pollak would compose this bit of dumbfuckery:
“The reason Stewart is funny–even, at times to conservatives–is that he has a deep understanding of American politics, and especially American media, even if his ideological blinders prevent him from understanding every issue. That is not something a crack team of writers can produce on demand for any host, much less one from overseas, even for a fast learner like Noah.”
As usual Pollak’s brain is AWOL. Never mind his first-ever admissions that Stewart is funny and “has a deep understanding of American politics,” Pollak’s own ideological blinders have prevented him from recalling that John Oliver, another overseas alien invader, adroitly filled-in for Stewart for three months in 2013, and went on to achieve his own success at HBO.
You do not need to be born in America to understand American politics and media. Pollak, of all people, should know this as someone who was born in South Africa. Now he runs an American political media website and has the nerve to presume that another South African is unable to grasp the same subjects.
If Noah brings half the wit and charm that Oliver did, the next generation Daily Show has a good chance of matching and surpassing the program’s historic appeal. And as the video below shows, Noah has a pretty good handle on the wit and charm stuff.
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