Comedy Central’s The Daily Show has left a far-reaching legacy for satirical news shows. The “fake news program” has been taking the piss out of journalism, the media, and headline news since its debut back in 1996 with comedian Craig Kilborn as host. The Daily Show that we all know and love today started in 1999, when John Stewart took over hosting duties and brought a more overtly political edge to the proceedings; and turned the program into a late night cable TV staple as a result.
Back in February, Stewart announced that he’d be stepping down from the hosting chair later this year, and today (March 30), Comedy Central announced that after careful consideration, hosting duties would be picked up by none other than comedian Trevor Noah.
I’m sorry…Trevor who?
Trevor Noah is a household name in his native South Africa who is just beginning to come into his own on our side of the world. Born to a Xhosa South African mother and a German-Swiss father whose very relationship was illegal at the time of his birth during apartheid, his bi-racial heritage and general social commentary are recurring themes in all of his work.
Trevor Noah is a comedian who hasn’t had very much exposure in the United States, but he’s a comedian who Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless feels is “a unique and powerful voice…He was not a new face to us, but he will be to a lot of people.” Other perceived frontrunners for the position included Daily Show correspondents Jessica Williams, who notably withdrew herself from the running back in February (she still deserves hosting duties of some kind) and Samantha Bee, who is embarking on her own talk show on TBS. And that’s not even considering ex-correspondents like Larry Wilmore (The Nightly Show), John Oliver (HBO’s Last Week Tonight), and new Late Show host Stephen Colbert (whose direct spin-off The Colbert Report ended just last year), who have all gone on to find success elsewhere.
Considering his relative obscurity to US audiences, Noah’s ascension to host may come across as confusing to some, but he brings a lot of experience and a different worldview that I think will bring a new sense of gravity to The Daily Show. Here are some things that you may not know about Trevor Noah.
1: He’s well-known in South Africa as an actor/radio host
Noah got his start in South African media at 18 years old on the South African soap opera Isidingo. From there, he broke into radio programming, hosting a show called Noah’s Ark, and a handful of others (the educational Run The Adventure, gossip show The Real Goboza, and sports show Siyadlala).
2: He hosted his own talk show for two seasons
After radio, Noah became a fixture on South African TV with a number of hosting/co-hosting duties on game shows and award shows, including the South African Music Awards in 2010. He even had an endorsement deal with cellular provider Cell C. All of this led to his own talk show Tonight with Trevor Noah, which ran for two seasons on MNet.