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Trevor Noah Isn’t Angry with Donald Trump, and That’s Why Millennials Are Flocking to ‘The Daily Show’

"The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" is on the rise, and yes, the Trump Administration has something to do with that. But Comedy Central credits the host for taking a different approach than his competitors.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Trevor Noah hosts Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" premiere on September 28, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Trevor Noah

Getty Images for Comedy Central

Donald Trump hasn’t yet gone after “The Daily Show,” and that’s fine by host Trevor Noah.

“I don’t think Trump’s attack is the mark of a good show,” he told IndieWire last month, after taping an episode in his Midtown Manhattan studio. “People always go, ‘He’s attacking ‘SNL.’ Actually, he is attacking Alec Baldwin. That’s what gets to him, the fact that that’s whom he aspires to. That’s a New York guy. That’s the face of fame for him. He has his peers that he wants to be associated with, and everyone else he doesn’t really care about. That’s part of the problem of Donald Trump. He lives in his own world.”

And it turns out, Noah is doing very well without Trump’s seal of disapproval. Just 18 months after Noah took over the Comedy Central franchise from Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show” finished the first quarter of 2017 with its best ratings since the host transition. It is the only daily late-night talk show this year to enjoy year-to-year improvement among both total viewers and adults 18-49.

It’s a solid turnaround for “The Daily Show” and Comedy Central, which took more than a few lumps after losing marquee talents Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee over the course of a year. (More recently, the network canceled “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” due to low ratings.) Noah also had a bumpy start before even taking over, as several of his old Twitter posts were criticized for being offensive.

Comedy Central

Comedy Central has always stressed that hiring Noah was about recalibrating “The Daily Show” for a new, younger generation, and it is doing particularly well with young viewers, surpassing “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” as the top late-night talk show among millennials under 25, and it’s now the No. 1 late-night talk show with men under 35.

“Our whole orientation was, if we try to replace Jon Stewart with just a younger version of Jon Stewart, it’s a fool’s errand and will never work,” said Comedy Central president Kent Alterman. “Our gut instinct about him is being borne out. I never really had any doubts about [Noah], and we never had doubts that it would take time. No matter how much I said that publicly it didn’t matter, people always thought the obligation was to compare Trevor’s Day 1 to Jon’s last day after 16 years. We always told people that we didn’t hire Trevor for his experience; we hired him for his talent and his brain.”

Noah is the first to credit the Trump Effect for giving “The Daily Show” renewed purpose and vigor.

“We’re in a world where maybe, for a certain amount of people, there was no need for a late-night satirical show in their lives when it was presumed that Hillary Clinton would win,” he said. “[When that didn’t happen], we felt the click in the show. I felt it in myself as a person. You feel that there is a fear and a tension, and when that tension rises, comedy is oftentimes the release.”

READ MORE: ‘Donald Trump’ Promises to Make Late Night Great Again with Comedy Central’s ‘The President Show’

Noah now sees his early days hosting “The Daily Show” during the presidential campaign as training for how to handle the job under a Trump administration. “Before the election and leading up to it, I remember people were like, ‘Why aren’t you more angry? Where’s your rage?’ I said, ‘Why would I be angry? What would my rage stem from? What is my origin story, for me to all of a sudden be this character you think I should be?’

“All I did was read; I learned. In essence, I’ve realized now that I was learning at the same time as Donald Trump was. We were learning about the country at the same time. The only difference is, I feel like I still read my briefings and he doesn’t.”

Noah’s growing knowledge is on display every night on “The Daily Show” set, even in between commercials. One night, he gave the crowd a succinct play-by-play of how House Speaker Paul Ryan had painted the Republicans in a corner by trying to push through Trumpcare so fast (something that later played out the way Noah had predicted). Some of those impromptu chats have wound up on “The Daily Show’s” social media channels, which have seen YouTube and Facebook video viewership grow by 200% over the last year.

Meanwhile, Alterman has heard the criticism that Noah isn’t angry enough on air, but believes it’s a complaint coming mostly from older viewers.

“Our research shows younger people don’t feel that way,” he said. “One thing that sets Trevor apart is he can take these strong positions and really go after whatever targets are out there, but he doesn’t do it in a dogmatic yelling way.”

Early on in the Trump campaign, Noah said he purposely approached it from a neutral perspective. “That’s why very early on, I said, ‘I can see how Trump’s connecting. I can see why I think he won that debate.’ People are like, ‘Are you mad?’ Even as a person who’s just come into it, very quickly you realize that there is an artificial middle that has been created and facts and truth and honesty are almost artifacts of a bygone era.”

(STORY CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE)

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Comments

Sterling Archer

He’s still not funny. Try and spin it any way you want, the Daily Show is a shell of its former self. He’s not selling “anger” because his whole shtick has been the confused foreigner who stumbles through America, and then smiles and says “I don’t understand, America is confusing, and aren’t I adorable, please like me”. The it’s a reflection of the Millennial audience, who aren’t engaged in anything besides the four inch screen in front of their noses.

The Daily Show has removed itself from the national conversation, and will never be anything more than an also ran from here on out.

Buzz

I’m sorry but if he is attracting so called millennials then there is something wrong with them or they just don’t have anyone else to watch at the time slot. HE may say he is on at 11:30 but only on the East Coast…here he is on at 8pm so I would bet if they did a cross country check you’d see different numbers. I prefer Colbert. More intelligent and gets the point across well. IF Millennials want someone who is kind and kissing Trump’s rear then he and Jimmy Failin’ should get together and Jimmy can say how it killed his ratings when he sucked up to Comrade Trump.

Sorry I’m not buying these numbers.

    Josh

    I agree with it. I’m a millennial.

Lana Drahrepus

The Daily Show is on the rise, yet more millennials still prefer late night cartoons more than this clown, that shows you how far its fallen under Trevor Noah. His delivery could use a lot of work, plus the fact that they have been showing the same two commercials for the show with the same two jokes for the last two months. Much more news has happened between now and then, someone should tell his writers to come up with some new stuff every now and then.

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/weekly-ratings/late-night-ratings-march-27-31-2017-late-night-falls-conan-ticks-up/

Josh

Now I want to watch the show. I didn’t know he wasn’t a dbag like the rest of comedy Central. I’m tired of people hating on the president. Ridiculous or not, hate it or love it, the man is the president of the united States. I see the super trendy millennials getting all butthurt and it makes me want to pee in their wounds. When someone has class, or is actually intelligent, I’ll check them out.

JIM

Hey Millenial here. We only watch the Daily Show because we play a drinking game. Every time Trump is mentioned or referred to, you drink a shot. Most of pass out before the 1st commercial break. Noah is entwined with Trump’s carreer. Fun thing; if you take Trump out of the Daily Show, there isn’t a daily show. Stewart at least made fun of everybody.

Brandy

hi everyone
i’m in Sydney,NS,Canada
I have to say this about Trevor “what a show” still laughing he is funny. If anyone hasn’t seen this program it is defiantly a MUST ….
you ROCK Trevor

Robert L

This racist prick should have lost his job a long time ago. And no, this is not something Millenials are interested in. Want to know what we are interested in? showing the world how the boomers have printed out more currency in one single generation ever and sent it to their kids. The same boomers are now making shows to convince Millenials they are the reason for the debt and should work more to pay it off. That is what this propaganda show is about. Start talking about real issues and you would have ratings again.

Robin

I watch him on youtube every day – he is hilarious and in a totally different way from Jon Stewart, so glad he’s made it through the other side of the transition. I love it, my millennial kid loves it, so I actually don’t think it’s just for millennials.

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