Comedy Central Names New ‘Daily Show’ Host Amid Controversy

Trevor Noah - Daily Show, Comedy Central

Source: Comedy Central

It’s hard to imagine a world where Jon Stewart isn’t hosting The Daily Show. Since he took over in 1999 for Craig Kilborn, Stewart has become one of the most trusted names in all of news thanks to his biting critique of the political system and straight talk. It should say something about the modern state of journalism that a satirical news show on Comedy Central became a generation’s source for information, but that’s of course a discussion for another day. The big news that broke just this last month concerned Stewart’s departure from The Daily Show, officially marking the end of an era.

Since then, rumors have flown around as to who would replace him. Other alums of the show like John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, Samantha Bee, and Jason Jones all found greener pastures to make their own way, leaving the list of contenders surprisingly short. But the eventual choice shocked just about everyone, with South African Trevor Noah set to take over. The first reaction upon finding this out from most has been a simple “so, who’s that?” Given the fact that Noah has yet to be a major presence on TV here in the United States, it stands to reason that people would have questions.

But we’re here to at least try to answer some of those questions. Many were clamoring for Jessica Williams to assume the chair for Stewart, breaking into the boys club that represents late night talk show hosting. But Noah gives us the next best thing. Much of what makes John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight so important is its focus on international affairs far outside our awareness as Americans. Our new Daily Show host gives us that same angle to the nth degree.

The New York Times detailed his upbringing, as the child of black and white parents during apartheid in South Africa. From that, he brings a singularly unique perspective that literally no other American late night show has. Combine that with the biting wit that we’ve seen in his brief run as a Daily Show correspondent and we have the makings for a new age of satire news. It’s important for any host following a gargantuan act like Stewart’s to have the show be his own, rather than trying to recreate the old program. Noah’s background and brand of humor provide us with just that.

It’s unclear what the exact future for late night Comedy Central will entail, but in a post-Stewart/Colbert world, the only real option is to allow new properties to make themselves. Neither Jon Stewart nor Stephen Colbert would have risen to the astronomical heights they did had they tried to mimic the work of their predecessors rather than making their own way. John Oliver has seen similar success doing the same with Last Week Tonight, proving time and again that if you assume your own identity, audiences will respond positively.

This all seemed like a slam dunk, until very recently. Buzzfeed’s business editor went back through a slew of Noah’s old Tweets to make an unsettling discovery: That our new Daily Show host may be a tad anti-Semitic, if not at least lacking in tact in his earlier days. Many of these Tweets predating 2012 make jokes that can only be described as being in incredibly poor taste, degrading both Jews and women on multiple occasions. We’ve seen no official comment from him concerning the controversy, but we’d be surprised if the Comedy Central office wasn’t scrambling to figure this situation out as fast as humanly possible. It’ll be hard to put a man in one of the most respected chairs in news without being absolutely certain that he can be trusted by his viewers.

Trevor Noah will be presented with the massive challenge of filling some enormous shoes. But if he’s smart, he’ll throw out those shoes, go to a cobbler, and come back with a brand new pair of his own. He’s stuck in a bit of a social media quagmire now though, and if the buzz begins to lean in the wrong direction we could see a rapid change in the winds. Maybe his Tweets were the acts of a comedian who simply didn’t expect to be anywhere near the spotlight. But he’ll have some serious damage control to do in the coming days to figure this situation out.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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