But when Trevor Noah appeared as one of the featured guests on Seinfeld’s latest season of the comedy web series, I wanted no part of that episode.
I saw Noah’s beaming, pretty face and thought: Yuk. Too young. What could he know? He’s multi-culti and must be trendy because I’ve never heard a whiff about him.
I thought he was American. Nothing worse than an obnoxious young American with a pretty face getting knighted with true fame at such a young age. What could he know?
Jon Stewart‘s entire career was a learning curve. The New Jersey native was a boy wonder with the first talk show that MTV produced. What could he know? He wasn’t grizzled or burning holes in our perception of reality like Bill Hicks or Hicks’ photocopy, Denis Leary (who is a fine actor, smart man and survivor, not to diminish him.)
Stewart got the Daily Show gig in 1998. The immediate general impression was that all would watch his predecessor, Craig Kilborn, burn up the stratosphere and Jon would have to better him.
It didn’t take very long for Stewart to display his mastery of the gig and awareness of the forum that Comedy Central afforded.Now Jon Stewart is passing the chair to Trevor Noah, 17 years later.
Fans would’ve expected someone as swift as Stephen Colbert take the job, had Stewart not already created Colbert’s mega-spinoff empire.
There are also many Daily Show correspondents who seemed capable of handling the gig, Jason Jones being top of the list. Jones was the reporter who interviewed Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, whose imprisonment inspired Stewart’s first film, “Rosewater.” Reporter John Oliver probably would’ve gotten the gig if he hadn’t already (deservedly) scored his own Bill Maher-esque deal at HBO.
So round and round the wheel spun. Who would fill such impressive shoes which left such a large imprint on American politics and culture? Despite the leftist leanings of the Daily Show, Stewart always made it clear he was afraid of no opposing dialogue and routinely challenged minds who seemingly were in line with his intellect. His jovial but pointed jousts with Christopher Hitchens were proof that he wasn’t a pushover. If “The Daily Show” is to survive, someone equally as smart, ballsy, devoid of ego and yet open to all ideas is the mandate.
Turns out, Trevor Noah is literally a Man Date. He is the man all women will puddle over and the TV date will want to watch.
Because the comedy scene on TV and in clubs has changed so drastically in the last 15 years, the TV public doesn’t get to sample all those who are doing great comedy presently. We get who gets the TV deal. Our master is the mass media which promotes. Television no longer sponsors shows that feature stand–up comedy showcases of up-and-comers. People who have made a career in comedy for decades struggle to get cable showcases despite their fans filling up theaters all over the country. To know who Trevor Noah is, you would have to be in the trenches, watching live showcases in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Canada, Dubai, Australia. This guy works.
While watching “Comedians Getting Coffee,” the reality of Trevor Noah’s life is laid bare and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.
A child of apartheid in South Africa, he declares clear and prescient awareness of a form of racism that makes the United States look like a hippie commune.
He looks younger than his 31 years but apparently not a minute has been wasted once he was old enough to travel.
Seinfeld states in the show that he heard about Noah and had to meet him. This was before the Daily Show gig was booked.
When Noah describes a typical New York comedian’s day — being a night owl who never goes home and spends all free time with other comics and takes every gig that’s available, big or small — Jerry slumps. He tells Noah, “You’ll do JUST FINE.” Noah shares a work ethic with the younger version of Seinfeld. Both men have lived to perform and write and improve.
He’s smart but doesn’t try to be over the top. He asks questions and listens. The way Noah handles Seinfeld is pretty magical because I can’t imagine being able to sit with Jerry and make him feel like the life I’ve led is interesting or even get Seinfeld invested enough to merit an interview. I would be too self-aware. Noah seems to just be. For a youngster like him to bust Seinfeld’s nut, which he does repeatedly, is proof enough to me that he can handle power players. Synthesize this with the fact that this guy has led a life steeped intensely in political dogma, racism, confusion and global travel and opportunity, and there is a recipe that didn’t exist before but tastes very similar to Stewart’s long road to realizing who he really wanted to be on TV.
“The Daily Show” is in good hands. It might even be in dynamite hands.
Photo of Trevor Noah courtesy The Daily Show; Photo of Jon Stewart still trying to track down; Photo of President Obama on The Daily Show courtesy The White House via Wikimedia Commons; Photo of Stephen Colbert at “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” by Cliff, originally posted to Flickr, licensed via Wikimedia Commons; Photo of Trevor Noah from his youtube channel; Entrance to Apartheid Museum, Johannesberg, South Africa, by Annette Kurylo licensed via Wikimedia Commons; Trevor Noah and Jerry Seinfeld from Season 6 poster for Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.