Like most talk show tapings, The Daily Show‘s Wednesday taping in Philadelphia began with a warm-up comic, Angelo Lozada. He bantered with everyone at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, across the Schuylkill River from the site of the Democratic National Convention. After a few funny interactions with the crowd, Lozada turned things over to host Trevor Noah, who took questions from the audience.
Things quickly proceeded as normal from there. Noah delivered a blistering critique of Donald Trump’s call for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email. Correspondent Desi Lydic congratulated Clinton for finally giving women a chance to “screw up” the White House. And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) discussed Hillary’s influence. Once the cameras stopped rolling, however, Noah took the stage one last time to do something a little different. Instead of making more jokes about Bill Clinton’s speech, the 32-year-old South African did something a little unexpected: he begged everyone not to vote for Trump.
“Don’t vote for Donald Trump come November. Just don’t do it,” Noah told the crowd. In case anyone wasn’t paying attention, Noah repeated himself before finally letting the audience go: “Do not let him become the next president of the United States. Seriously.”
Among an otherwise standard helping of Daily Show satire, Noah’s words were somewhat unexpected, as other recent tapings appear to have been devoid of such pleas.
“He never got overly political. He just said it was historic that, in our city, a major party had just elected the first female presidential candidate,” says Philadelphia resident James Delmonico, who attended the previous day’s taping with his brother. “He was never one-sided with a specific view, ideology or anything like that.”
Others who attended Tuesday’s performance confirmed Delmonico’s account, recalling that, aside from highlighting Clinton’s official nomination during the day’s roll call vote, Noah didn’t say anything expressly political off-camera. He simply did the Q&A beforehand, ran through the show and thanked the people for their attendance and participation.
“After the taping he answered a few questions in addition to the ones posed at the beginning, told everyone it was a pleasure and said goodbye,” notes Mandy MacDonald, who attended both pre-recorded and live shows during Stewart’s tenure. “It was all good fun.”
Melissa Parlanti, who watched the final Cleveland taping on Friday, July 22, didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Warm-up comic? Check. Opening introductions and a few quick questions from the audience? For sure. As it was the program’s final night in Ohio, the team returned to the stage after wrap to thank the crowd. But as Parlanti recalls, Noah “didn’t ask” anyone not to vote for Trump. Another Clevelander, Kianna Early, who volunteered during Tuesday’s taping and Thursday’s live show, says Noah did “joke” about their being Republicans or Trump fans in the audience. He even asked if anyone there would be voting for the Donald, “but he didn’t explicitly say not to vote for” the nominee.
So why change course now and speak out so forcefully? Perhaps Trump calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email, as he’d done earlier in the day, was the final straw for Noah. It probably was for a lot of people.