“The Daily Show” has found a successor to Jon Stewart, and it's… South African comic Trevor Noah.
“It”s an honor to follow Jon Stewart,” Noah said in Comedy Central's announcement of the move. “He and the team at ‘The Daily Show” have created an incredible show whose impact is felt all over the world. In my brief time with the show they”ve made me feel so welcome. I”m excited to get started and work with such a fantastic group of people.”
“I”m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Stewart himself added. “He”s a tremendous comic and talent that we”ve loved working with…In fact, I may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”
Since December, Noah has appeared a handful of times as a “Daily Show” correspondent, so this isn't exactly as sharp a departure as Craig Kilborn was replaced by Stewart, who had no affiliation with the show whatsoever. But Stewart was also far more established in America, having hosted his own MTV talk show, and having been mentioned frequently as a candidate for a broadcast network late night job. (He had also spent a while playing himself as Larry Sanders' replacement on “The Larry Sanders Show.”) Noah's still a relative unknown, both to “Daily Show” viewers and the U.S. audience in general.
But given Stewart's interest in world affairs, and the success of John Oliver – both as “Daily Show” fill-in host and now host of HBO's “Last Week Tonight” – it's not that surprising that he would be interested in another host with an outsider's perspective on American news and politics.
Many of the more prominent internal candidates took themselves out of the running a while ago, with Jason Jones and Samantha Bee each getting shows on TBS (and Bee's sounds very much in the vein of “The Daily Show”), while Jessica Williams said she didn't feel qualified for the job yet.
Noah's hiring still leaves late night TV as an all-male province. But with the biracial Noah and “Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore, Comedy Central's in the interesting position of having two hosts of color, albeit from very different backgrounds.
Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless told the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff, who first reported the news, “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”
That Comedy Central and Stewart didn't go after a big name isn't that unusual for late night. Conan O'Brien was a “Simpsons” writer who'd barely ever appeared on camera when NBC named him to succeed David Letterman on “Late Night,” and new “Late Late Show” host James Corden is far better-known in the UK than he is here.
There would be enormous pressure on anyone who succeeds Stewart, but the audience may give a new guy a greater margin for error if/when his version of the show isn't as great instantly as Stewart's version, while a familiar face could be judged more harshly than someone like Noah. (Then again, Conan took a beating for a couple of years before the audience adjusted to his wavelength.) It's definitely not a safe choice.
Here's a clip of Noah's “Daily Show” debut in December:
What does everybody else think?