Amy Schumer didn’t want the job. Chris Rock has passed, unwilling to commit beyond the 2016 presidential election. Louis CK and Amy Poehler have also said no.
As Trevor Noah, the guy who ultimately won the gig, said in a 2019 interview with The Times: Only a fool would take over from Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. And luckily, I was that idiot.
Comedy Central announced that Noah would succeed Stewart in 2015 after making just three appearances as the show’s on-air contributor. Suffice it to say, it was an unexpected choice. Noah was not widely known outside of his native South Africa, where he grew up as a child of a mixed race and then illegal in that country’s apartheid system. (Noah titled his 2016 memoir Born a Crime.)
I never looked down on any type of decision that was made because someone said no to someone else, Noah said. We’re all a no to someone else’s yes.
Noah’s six-year run with The Daily Show broadened the ranks of women and people of color both behind and in front of the camera, moving the staff beyond what Stewart called a Harvard Lampoon school of guys. pasty whites sitting in a room. It has grown in other ways as well, becoming the # 1 late-night show in digital and social media and podcast downloads.
But the changing of the guard was not smooth. After Noah’s takeover, the show lost nearly 700,000 viewers per night to Stewarts last year. And it took a while for Noah to figure out what Stewart told him (Jon is my Jewish Yoda) before the transition: the program is an extension of the host. Noah was unable to impose himself on a show that had become a national institution.
How do you break up what has been one of the most acclaimed shows in American history? Who has the right ? No one, Noah said, remembering his first bouts. The breakthrough came about eight months into his tenure, when he took The Daily Show down the road to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia ahead of the 2016 election. Donald Trump was elected and Noah found an opponent, with a heightened sense of urgency.
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This is it, the end of the presidential race, and it looks like the end of the world, Noah said on air the night Trump won. You know, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know if you’re in the right place to joke tonight, because it’s the first time in this whole race that I’ve officially put my pants on.
Satire works best when it has targets, Noah told The Times. Once Trump took office, the series immediately established a relationship with the White House. And that [was] an interesting relationship, like Harry Potter with Voldemort.
That said, Noah sets his main goal of moving forward, after a three-month hiatus on September 13, to a daily show that Comedy Central says will deliver a whole new look and feel by engaging viewers. in a way that will bridge the divisions. . Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. thinks he could pull it off.
There’s an even keel for Trevor that helps you maintain a north star and have a conversation that can get lost in a bunch of yelling and screaming from both sides, Wood told The Times.
Before leaving for his summer break, Noah expressed his hopes for his return to work.
We have to recognize that we can have differing opinions on things and then go from there, he said on a Zoom call from his Manhattan apartment. But man, I can’t expect everyone in my audience to share every point of view. And I think that’s slowly where we were getting. People reject others and create brainwashed thought factions. You have to tick all of these boxes, then you can be my friend. Otherwise, I don’t want to see your voice on social media.
So I’m going to try to breathe during the summer months and then come back and try to be a part of it. And I prefer to fail at least by trying to be a part of it. I don’t want to succeed in the screaming match. I can’t spend all of my time on pandemic land away from humans and not understand how to talk to humans when I’m out of this thing.
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