Jon Stewart’s replacement, Trevor Noah


Any thoughts on Jon Stewart’s announced replacement, Trevor Noah?

I mean, beyond the purely superficial sort of hail-the-Obama-of-talk-show-hosts observation?

I don’t know what I think, because the clips I’ve seen today meant to explain who Trevor Noah is have been kind of light and limited. Perhaps he has the comedic range and ironic take on American politics that make him a good replacement. But I haven’t seen it.

We knew what we were getting with Jimmy Fallon (a guy I used to not like, but who had grown on me by the time he took over the Tonight Show). We know what we will be getting when Stephen Colbert takes over for Letterman, although some might wonder a little as to what he’ll be like as himself.

The president of Comedy Central said, “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart — there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.”

So, I suppose we’ll see what that something different will be.

On a completely unrelated note, I ran across this quote today from Stewart, which was new to me:

I view America like this: 70 to 80 percent [are] pretty reasonable people that truthfully, if they sat down, even on contentious issues, would get along. And the other 20 percent of the country run it.

Good one. If Comedy Central had given me a vote, I’d have voted to hire somebody who will come up with more quotes like that, whoever that might be…

23 thoughts on “Jon Stewart’s replacement, Trevor Noah

  1. Dave Crockett

    I’ve seen Noah’s appearances on The Daily Show. I found him to be quite clever and more soft-spoken than most of the contributing cast on the show which, in some respects, makes him quite different. I will miss Jon Stewart but I will expect great/different things from Noah.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      All I’ve seen is his debut on the show (which kind of underwhelmed), plus some of his standup stuff. And they make him seem kind of narrow in his comedic perspective. If people know him, they’d be likely to say (based on what I’ve seen), “Yeah, he’s the South African guy who makes observations based on that.”

      That seems like a thin shtick….

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    I bet a great deal of what was great about what Jon Stewart said can be attributed to his writers, so never fear….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, but… Jon Stewart had that generic voice that could be from anywhere or nowhere. That meant his voice didn’t get in the way of the material the writers came up with.

      Now the writers have to deal with the fact that whatever they write will be delivered in a South African accent. That changes the delivery.

      If we’d heard that accent comment in an entertaining way on a wide variety of topics, it would be easier to write for. But so far all I’ve heard from him is jokes about being South African, and commenting from that perspective.

      I guess, eventually, Craig Ferguson’s accent doesn’t distract. But he’s got such a big, broad persona. I haven’t seen anything like that from this young man yet…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        But then, we’re USED to Scottish and English accents. They have a place in the familiar comedic universe, from Monty Python, Benny Hill, etc.

        American audiences don’t know what to do with a South African accent. I mean, the last time I remember South Africans in popular culture in this country was the baddies in “Lethal Weapon 2.”

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, yeah! I don’t remember being struck by the accents in that one, though…

            Americans have trouble placing a South African accent, I think…

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Forgive me for bringing up alternative history in talking about the real world, but I’m reminded of Robert E. Lee trying to place the accent of the South African white supremacists who bring AK-47s to the Confederacy. He can’t do it. At one point, he guesses they are from the Isle of Man.

            Of course, South Africa was not a place in 1864. And when Lee eventually runs across the term “Afrikaner,” he is completely confused…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          But he didn’t talk like a Catskills comic. If it worked well with the gag to bring in his background, he did. If not, his specificity (is that a word in this sense? if not, it should be) didn’t get in the way.

          And maybe Noah can do that, too. I saw a clip of him performing at the Apollo, and he did this gag (from well within his shtick) about watching movies to learn “how to be black” in America. And he easily dropped the accent for that. So maybe he can do that more in a job in which MOST jokes will have nothing to do with being from South Africa…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Looked at his bit. Honestly, it’s eh, but not that funny. Since he’s half-white, half-black he did most of his jokes about that. Accordingly, it seems that his bit is to do jokes about What He Is, like a Fat Guy doing jokes about being Fat, or a Redneck doing jokes about being a redneck. Sometimes doing the Who You Are bit works, but that’s not really what “The Daily Show” is. Maybe he’ll be able to do political humor, but it doesn’t really look like that’s what his natural bit is.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Great example of the Who You Are type of bit: Yakov Smirnov. Some of his stuff was really funny.

              “America is great and you have so many channels to watch on TV. In Russia, we only have two channels. Channel 1 is Soviet propaganda. Channel 2 is KGB Officer saying ‘Turn back to Channel 1’.”

  3. Norm Ivey

    I’m certain Stewart had a big say in who his follow-up would be just as he did in choosing Larry Wilmore to take Colbert’s time slot (which hasn’t worked so well IMHO). I’ve seen Noah a few times on the show, and I think he has the bearing to carry the show. I’m surprised Jason Jones didn’t get the opportunity, and I wonder if that may have led to Jones leaving the show this week. He was by far the funniest of the supporting staff.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Well, well, well. Looks like some people don’t think he’s so funny, now does it? I’m reminded of this meme.

      I’m not offended by his jokes, but then again, I’m not Jewish or female, either. However, it is kind of funny to me (as a non-social justice person) to see the Social Justice Warriors taking down someone on their side of things.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’m guessing he uses Twitter to try out gags, and those were some of the rejects.

        I say that because I’ve used Twitter sometimes to try out concepts for blog posts, just as I used to use the blog to try out column topics…

        Actually, it’s more like this — I say something on Twitter, but then decide it’s worth developing on the blog, without much attention to how it played in New Haven. Not exactly a tryout thing. The tryout analogy does work better with the blog-column dynamic, though.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      For instance, I don’t watch “The Daily Show.” I just occasionally see clips from it when they are brought to my attention by social media. Therefore I’m familiar with it…

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