Trevor Noah radiates confidence in revamped “Daily Show” debut



Brett Klein

Trevor Noah, a half-black, South African immigrant, was chosen to inherit “The Daily Show” earlier this year after Jon Stewart announced that he would be ending his 16-year run as host. 

Now that Monday night’s reboot has passed, Noah has claimed his rightful spot behind his new, gleaming desk as America turns its attention to him.  

Stewart, who forged the path that Noah will traverse, “was more than just a late-night host,” Noah said. “He was often our voice, our refuge, and in many ways, our political dad.” 

Stewart spoke for citizens weary of America’s political establishment and news media, both of which always seemed a bit off. Stewart called things as he saw them with a sincerity that truly endeared him to viewers. Those same people will now rely on Noah with the hope that he, too, will be their brash, intelligent spokesman in this crazy world. 

The 31-year-old Noah was dissected, evaluated and categorized by countless people leading up to Monday night’s debut, but he still began the night by introducing himself. He never thought two things would happen—he would have an indoor toilet or be host of “The Daily Show.” And, of course, he thanked Stewart. 

“Many people are part of the reason that I’m sitting here today, but above all I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge one man, and that’s Jon Stewart,” Noah said. “Thank you, Jon. Thank you for believing in me. I’m not quite sure what you saw in me, but I’ll work hard every day to find it. And I’ll make you not look like the crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid in Africa.”

As a relatively unknown comic, whether Noah has the ability to generate laughs is not common knowledge. Before we can even discuss Noah’s significance as a commentator, is he even funny? 

Noah answered that question immediately by diving into Pope mania, and he looked naturally comfortable in Stewart’s old chair. 

With a barrage of clips and quick commentary, Noah took note of Pope Francis traveling by Fiat after landing in the United States. “Oh that’s a tiny car,” he said in a melodic voice. “Somebody’s undercompensating.” Before the audience could react, Noah butted in again, this time cutting to the chase about the sexual inuendo of his joke.

It sounded like the kind of off key gag that one might expect from a new host during a premiere—until Noah continued. “And what a waste,” he said. 

After slipping in the final punch line to a storm of ‘Oh I get it’ laughs, Noah heartily giggled to himself before getting back to his line of jokes. Although it was just for a second or two, it was a signature moment of the show. 

During promos for the revamped “Daily Show,” and even in his older stand-up shows, Noah appeared inflexible. He knew where he was going next with his humor, and he was going to get there without detours even if there were roadblocks. 

To the audience, it was like to he was talking at them, rather than chatting with them. Stars like Louis CK and, obviously, Stewart create a mood that perpetuates the idea that we—the comedian and the audience—are in this together. With his reaction to the absurdity of his joke, Noah made that sort of connection with viewers, old and new.  

Noah then moved on to Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and his impending exit from the position. “No!” Noah squealed. “Why leave now, I just got here.” Senior Congressional Correspondent, Jordan Klepper, joined Noah to talk about Boehner’s potential replacement, and voiced his optimism that someone “extremely qualified” would replace Boehner. Noah, though, continued to harp on the tremendous pressure that will fall on Boehner’s successor. 

“Yeah, Jordan, but this John Boehner,” Noah warned. “I mean whoever takes that job will probably fall flat on their face in front of the entire nation.” 

The whole thing turned into an allusion to Noah’s replacement of Stewart and the “big shoes” he has to fill. It conceded the fears of longtime viewers and critics. Whatever will we do without Jon Stewart? 

“I just hope the new Speaker of the House knows that certain people are depending on him,” Klepper said through hastened breaths. 

And with this bit, Noah conveyed that he understands the magnitude of the position he is in. It was a reassuring moment that occurred between the viewers and Noah. He acknowledged the uncertainty of the future they will create together, and even though it will be different than before, it will be rooted in the values that Stewart stood for. 

Long anticipated to be a thicker lens of the new “Daily Show,” race made its way into the dialogue when correspondent Roy Wood Jr., an African American, joined Noah to discuss the discovery of water on Mars. Could water on Mars lead to people on Mars? 

“Black people ain’t going to Mars,” Wood Jr. said. “And that includes you, Trevor. Oh, you think because you’re on TV they’re going to take you to Mars? You’ve only had “The Daily Show” for one commercial break, these white folks ain’t decided if they like you yet.” 

While the episode bluntly and crassly explored race as well as other topics, the Mars segment gave a preview of what’s to come in collaboration with Noah’s blackness and that nothing is off limits.

Finally, Noah brought on his first and only guest, comedian Kevin Hart. Hart stole the show with his off-the-wall personality, which relegated Noah to the passenger seat for the show’s final segment. 

The interview may have been the show’s only letdown, though. Noah will continue to evolve and improve in that department and develop all of his comedic talents. 

There may not be one definite answer as to why we put so much stock into parody news programs. In fact, it’s more likely that there are thousands of reasons. What is certain, though, is that these shows—particularly the one that Stewart recently departed—speak to the American public. 

As for Noah, he did not disappoint in his first appearance as big man in studio. Where he will take “The Daily Show” from here is not entirely clear, although we do have a better idea. 

However, Noah will do what’s right and, as he stated, he will “continue the war on bulls***.” 

That’s all we can ask.