Leaving for Opportunities: Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah.

Growing up in a township in Johannesburg in the 1990s, Trevor Noah had a rather particular upbringing. Raised by a strong Xhosa mother with an interest in languages, he was introduced to language learning at a young age, and remaining in a Roman Catholic environment while his mother converted to Judaism gave him a deepened religious understanding. Trevor’s father, a Swiss man, provided a white person’s perspective by his very existence, and soon Trevor could see life through the lenses of black, white and coloured people, as well as speak multiple languages. This background then made it possible for Noah to relate to a broad national audience in his subsequent jobs in stand-up comedy and on TV, earning him great acclaim as a comedian and television host.

Attention from the United States

Noah’s success in South Africa, after a while, led to attention from the United States and a call from Jon Stewart, host of talk and news satire program the Daily Show. The Daily Show, Noah was told, wanted him as a contributor, and the South African comedian eventually made his way to America to be part of the production. When Stewart thereafter left the show, in 2015, Trevor Noah became lead host, taking over a program that was one of the most impactful news programs in the United States.

Humorous criticism

Filling the shoes of the uncrowned king of television comedy, Jon Stewart, all critics agreed, was going to be difficult, but Noah took on the role with gusto. Several times a week, he now covers the latest news stories, coming down hard on racial and national stereotyping, right-leaning politics and anything else he thinks will tickle his audience. Even so, he himself has been known to use racial and national stereotyping to hit points home, and considering his show's overt left-leaning political bias, viewers seldom get more than one logically argued point of view. This, however, does not have a negative impact on the Daily Show’s ratings, since much of its appeal comes from bold criticism of the political right, provoking analogies and an overall humor-based approach. Noah, in his position as host, is also articulate, quick-witted and politically aware, explaining why many Americans choose to get almost all of their news exposure from Trevor Noah and a satire program.