On March 30, Comedy Central announced Trevor Noah would succeed Jon Stewart as host of "The Daily Show." The announcement was surprising, mostly considering Noah is a relative unknown. He’s been a correspondent on "The Daily Show" for a short while, but American audiences aren’t as familiar with him as they are other rumored candidates like Samantha Bee and Jason Jones. The network pulled a move similar to CBS, which inexplicably hired James Corden as new host of "The Late Late Show," replacing Craig Ferguson.
The initial reaction to Noah's hiring was relatively positive. Comedy Central was praised for putting yet another diverse voice in late-night television. Noah is South African, and his mixed-raced heritage and international experience will give him a unique perspective on American politics.
Less than one day after the news was announced, the backlash began. Twitter users dug deep into Noah’s past, exposing comments that many have deemed politically incorrect. Noah’s tweets, a few of which have been included below, have been described as insensitive towards women and Jews.
Noah’s tweets obviously cross the line. No one should be making fun of women, Jews or any other minority population in a hateful manner. Even by reading these tweets, it’s obvious it was not Noah’s intent. According to an interview the Herald Sun, Noah himself comes from Jewish heritage. “My mum doesn’t fit into any category, she’s a black South African woman who’s half Jewish,” Noah responded to a question about his mixed-race background. That doesn’t excuse his comments, but at least it gives some added perspective.
Although some of Noah’s comments may cross the line between comedy and insensitivity, his critics are looking for controversy where there is none. He was simply making jokes, albeit unfunny ones, not necessarily speaking down to any particular group. It’s a trend that’s growing in the comedy world, as progressives and the left-wing media become outraged and attack anyone they don’t find to be politically correct. But the role of the comedian is to push boundaries. Noah should be discussing issues of race and sex from an honest perspective, as long as he’s open to feedback and counter-arguments regarding those viewpoints.
If Noah is going to successfully replace Jon Stewart, he needs to take a strong stance regarding his political and comedic voice. People may demand an apology for his past tweets, but Noah needs to stand behind them. Maybe some of them were made in bad taste, but they’re far from malicious. Comedy provides a medium for sensitive issues like this to be discussed, and Noah shouldn’t be afraid to speak his mind once he assumes control of "The Daily Show" desk.
Image Credit: Courtesy Trev