Why Trevor Noah leaving will hurt ‘The Daily Show,’ late night

Late-night television and late-night political satire will miss The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who announced Thursday that he is leaving the Comedy Central series after seven years behind the desk. The South African comedian brought a “Third World” perspective – his words – to a talk show populated by white American and Anglo-American pranksters. Noah’s outsider status, initially seen as a disadvantage in his line of work, eventually became his greatest strength. Connecting us to the rest of the world during an incredibly tense time in American politics, the comedian reminded audiences that we weren’t the first to experience such upheaval, and we weren’t alone. His sharp and insightful commentary on global affairs, foreign conflicts, colonialism, and the realities of race and inequality both inside and outside the US somehow made our own spiraling state of the Union seem a little less catastrophic.

“I’ve loved finding a way to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly s– even on the worst of days,” he told audiences on Thursday’s Daily Show taping. But the worldwide notoriety that has shaped his comedic style is at least part of the reason he’s decided to leave — on a date yet to be determined, according to the network. “I spent two years in my apartment, not on the street, and once I got back out there, I realized there was another part of my life out there that I want to explore further. I miss learning other languages. I miss going to other countries and doing shows,” Noah said. He thanked Comedy Central for believing in “this random comedian that no one on this side of the world knew.”

Noah, who grew up in Johannesburg and has made a name for himself in the region as a stand-up, was a relatively obscure choice to follow predecessor Jon Stewart and the series initially suffered in ratings when Noah took over in 2015. But the gamble paid off: the former Daily Show correspondent has attracted younger viewers during a particularly difficult time, in part by emphasizing how his perspective differs from the likes of Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, James Corden and Jimmy’s Kimmel took off and Fallon. He was only a year in office when Trump won the presidency; During the pandemic, he switched to streaming the show from home in a black hoodie. But he made unpredictable times seem less grim and isolating by combining news of domestic disputes with events beyond our borders.

For example, in a recent “Royal Rumble” segment, he joked about the different reactions to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s normal to mourn someone, he said, but it’s a problem to demand that everyone share the same opinion have over the crown. He said her death gave a glimpse of how people see the world around them and noted the outrage of royal supporters, who called for everyone to show the same reverence for the monarchy as they did. He pointed out that people from countries like India and Africa suffered under the British Empire, where British colonizers prevented them from speaking their native language and disregarded local customs. “You can’t expect people to show respect for something they’ve never respected,” he said. “To embark on an idea that never got used to hers.”

As the only black host on the night, Noah also had the personal experience and license to fight racism and inequality at a particularly fearful time, when demonstrations were taking place against police violence against black Americans; a Trump administration ban on Muslim travelers entering the country; a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes; and attacks on synagogues and mosques. Taking on race-lure Tomi Lahren with ease, he offered a powerful insight into the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed – not least because his own life was shaped by apartheid. At the time of Noah’s birth, his parents’ multiracial relationship (his father Anglo-European, his mother African) was illegal in South Africa and he did not shrink from the humiliations they faced in a segregated society. “Daily Show” segments like “Racism in South Africa vs. America” ​​added global historical context to the growing hatred in America and made audiences laugh when we wanted to cry.

Meanwhile, Noah’s deep interest in and frequent references to music, Kanye, pop culture and more Kanye forged a bond with younger viewers that his late-night peers couldn’t reach. He took that appeal to platforms beyond The Daily Show, and as a Grammys host, he delivered one of the best performances in modern memory for his inside jokes about songs like “WAP.” Anyone whose Google search results bring up the question “Is he dating Dua Lipa?”? has an automatic youth culture loan.

He used this contemporary cachet to expose The Daily Show viewers to comparatively stuffy news that “they might otherwise find boring.” In a recurring segment, “If You Don’t Know, Now You Know,” he answered questions not even asked by most Americans and brought subliminal themes from the freezer to the front burner of TV: Why does China want you Take over Uganda’s only international airport? Why are India’s farmers protesting? What about the reparation efforts for Europe’s stolen African art (or, as Noah put it, “borrowed antiquities”)?

Noah’s clear stance was most practical after Trump shocked many observers with his White House victory, in part because his background allowed him to answer a question many late-night anchors couldn’t: how could this change Prepare country for a Trump presidency?

Noah knew. He suggested looking for clues in Africa and its former dictators, then compared clips of speeches and interviews with Uganda’s Idi Amin and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to those of Trump. Their style, attitude, and win-at-all-costs rhetoric—while imprisoning their critics—were eerily similar. He also cited former South African President Jacob Zuma, who presented himself as a man of the people, an anti-establishment agent of change, a beacon of truth amid dishonest media, and a contentious figure who stacked the courts with his own people.

Then, as now, were clues to our own future in the often secretive “Third World” to which Noah was so attuned. It took a late-night comedian from somewhere else to make us laugh at our own country’s mistakes and open our eyes to what’s next.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-09-30/the-daily-show-trevor-noah-leaving-late-night Why Trevor Noah leaving will hurt ‘The Daily Show,’ late night

Sarah Ridley

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