Trevor Noah, who takes over “The Daily Show” Sept. 28 after Jon Stewart leaves Aug. 6, just outlined his vision for the show at the Television Critics Association press tour. And while he said “it's about the show first, and I'm the person people are looking at,” there are changes ahead related to its new host.
Primarily, he said the show will reflect his perspective. Compared to Stewart, “the way we would look at the same story would be completely different … because we would have access to different jokes, different sides of the story” and have “different sensitivities.”
He said that “the way you approach a story” is affected by your background and experiences. For example, with a story related to race, “Jon would have to empathize; I myself come from a different place.” Regarding the story about Mike Huckabee's offensive Holocaust reference, Noah said, “Jon would comment on it from a different place than I would, because I'm more of an outsider.”
“It's my angle, really,” he said, but added, “the show still has its voice.” His angle and strengths include his ability to speak seven languages–and he said he's “still learning more now.” He said, “most of the time, I'm a mimic; that's how I grew up.”
“'The Daily Show's' source material will broaden, too. While 'The Daily Show' came about as 24-hour cable news channels were gaining prominence, there's a lot more content on television and online. He said they'll be looking “through a bigger lens as opposed to going after just one source, which was historically Fox News.”
The set, too, will transform. He said they're “changing the sets a tiny bit” so that they're different but recognizable as “The Daily Show.”
Some things won't change. Like Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah insisted that they're just making jokes, not making news: “We're in the comedy business,” he said. “It's our comedic view on the news, as opposed to news with a comedic view.” While Jon Stewart's episodes often made news themselves, he said he'll have to earn that: “I hope in time to have the same impact in a different way, maybe, but an impact nonetheless.”
During the press conference, Noah also discussed former “Daily Show” contributor Wyatt Cenac's recently revealed that he and Jon Stewart got into conflict over Stewart's impression of Herman Cain.
Trevor Noah said, “that story wasn't about the accents itself.” Instead, it was about “an incident in the office.” He said “[that's] what the writers' room is for,” having out those arguments, and added, “we have a diverse staff” and “really that's the point, I think, of having a great writing team. You're trying to find the best voice for the show.”
He said “any joke can be seen as offensive by anyone.” Noah experienced after he was announced as the new host of “The Daily Show” and several old tweets were unearthed, angering people.
“I don't strive to be offensive; that's not who I am as a person, that's not who I am as a performer,” he said. “When you know a person, you know the context of a joke. … That's going to be one of the great things: getting to know my audience.”
Noah pointed out that, in the last few years, “Twitter changed.” What once was “the room for jokes” has now “become a largely negative place.” What wasn't negative, though, was the positive conversation that emerged from that backlash. “It went from, 'Is this guy offensive?' to 'What is comedy and what is its role in our society?'” he said.
“Luckily Comedy Central hasn't limited me to 140 characters,” Trevor Noah joked, so “I should be able to say things in a better and well-formed way.”