While the most immediate effects of the ensuing Brexit will affect Great Britain and the European Union, the diplomatic and fiscal split will ultimately spillover into the United States. That’s not just because President Donald Trump keeps talking about it, of course, but also due to its inevitable, world-ranging consequences (like HBO’s ability to finance certain filming locations for Game of Thrones). Like it or not, Brexit is a subject Americans should know about if they want to remain properly informed about the world — let alone their own backyard.
Enter Gina Yashere, an internationally famous British comedian of Nigerian dissent hired by The Daily Show to serve as its British correspondent. She appeared alongside host and longtime friend Trevor Noah on March 16th for her inaugural segment, “Ask the Brexpert.” Yashere’s hiring stems from the new Daily Show‘s efforts to attain a larger global audience than Jon Stewart‘s primarily American politics-focused heyday. As the London-born comic explained to us the week after her debut, however, her new gig has just as much to do with her and Noah’s shared love of comedy as it does with overseas shenanigans.
I know you have family and friends back in London. Is everyone okay following the attack?
Yes, everybody is fine. We’re on a chat group, because we knew that something like this may be coming. Soon as I heard, I texted the entire family, “Everybody okay?” Everybody texted back, so that was good. Because my brother works for London Underground — the Tube for everybody there. He manages a lot of stations in that area, so he was the first person I thought of. But everybody’s good.
I’m familiar with your stand-up from Live at the Apollo and appearances on American late night television. How did The Daily Show gig come about?
I’ve known Trevor a few years, actually. I first met him on Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution. I went down to Florida to record an episode for the show and Trevor was recording the same day, though he appeared on a different episode. I stayed to watch him. I thought, “I’ve never seen this kid before.” And he was fantastic! After the show, I told him I thought it was great. It wasn’t until later I realized, “Holy shit, this guy’s a superstar in South Africa!” I’ve been to South Africa several times for tours and comedy festivals, and I thought I knew all of the South African comics, but Trevor had become a superstar since the last time I’d been. I had no idea until I Googled him. Over the following years, we met each other all over the world. We were both in Australia once during the Sydney Comedy Festival, so we chatted backstage and had a laugh.
Later he was spending more time in New York’s Comedy Cellar, which is my home club in the city. We’d sit and talk about our careers and being outsiders in America. We just kind of hung out a lot, and that’s how The Daily Show eventually came about at the end of last year. I got a text saying, “Hey Gina, are you in New York?” I responded, “Yeah, who’s this?” I didn’t recognize him. (I think he changed his number since the last time we spoke.) He responded, “Trevor,” and I said, “I’m British. I know a lot of Trevors. Trevor who?” Once we figured it out, he said The Daily Show team “wanted to have a chat about doing some work on the show.” I’ve been a fan of the show forever, and it’s Trevor, so of course I said yes. I mean, what a great gig be to be a correspondent on The Daily Show!
So I came in and hung out on the lot one Tuesday, to sort out how it all works. Though only problem was, I was then about to go on a big tour in Asia for a couple of months, and wouldn’t be able to start until February or March. Trevor and his team didn’t mind at all, so I did my tour in Asia, came back to America and went straight to work for them.
It works out timing-wise, too, since Brexit’s not going away anytime soon. Neither, unfortunately, is Trump.
Yeah, the shared commentary is very apt. I’m sure there will be lots more to discover in the near future.