The question has been answered. After much public debate, Comedy Central has announced Trevor Noah as the third-ever permanent anchor of “The Daily Show.” He will replace Jon Stewart at an unspecified date.
Noah joined the popular late night program on December 4, 2014, but that only makes him a more appealing replacement in the eyes of Comedy Central. The two previous hosts — Craig Kilborn and Stewart — were both relative unknowns when joining, though Kilborn did work on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” for three years prior to helping start “The Daily Show.” Hiring a new, fresh face — at least to Americans — should allow the series’ content to remain the focus while introducing an exciting new talent who can make the material his own.
Hiring a young host is also key to the network’s target demographic. “The Daily Show” was built on the eyes of audience members who were discerning enough to seek out news via an untraditional venue — meaning most are younger, themselves. At just 31 years old, Noah is already well-known in his home country of South Africa. He hosted comedy festivals and awards shows before debuting in America on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Showtime released his first stand-up special, “Trevor Noah: African American,” in July 2013. He also hosted his own late night show in South Africa for two seasons.
The New York Times reported that Noah gave no formal auditions for the job, though his appearances on “The Daily Show” certainly figured into the decision. Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless said, “He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful. He’s truly a student of the world.”
Noah’s intelligent, race-related humor is informed from experience as a mixed-race child and American immigrant, making his an ideal voice for our current socio-political culture. In his first segment on “The Daily Show,” he deftly reflected American misperceptions via media missteps back to the audience in an astute — and very funny — appearance. The new host speaks eight languages: German, English, and six different dialects of African languages. Along with his popularity overseas, Noah seems like an ideal candidate to grow “The Daily Show’s” international audience, especially given its already huge online audience.
Notably, Noah’s hire means Comedy Central’s late night slate — “The Daily Show” and “The Nightly Show with Larry WIlmore” — will be made up entirely of minority voices. His new position, combined with former fellow “Daily Show” stars Samantha Bee — whose feminine voice is certainly in the minority on late night — and game-changing British host John Oliver, could mark the start of another cable TV revolution. Comedy Central, TBS, HBO and other cable channels are yet again forging a new, significant path while the broadcast networks remain committed to traditional institutions. Most are likely excited to see more of Steven Colbert on CBS’s “The Late Show,” but he marks yet another affable white male to take a coveted late night comedy position on the most widely-watched networks around.
Noah’s start date has yet to be announced. Tell us what you think of his hire below.