As Trevor Noah gears up to begin his duties as the new host of The Daily Show, he landed a GQ in-depth interview and photo spread. He touched on his life before moving from South Africa and his time traveling across America as a stand-up comedian, but he also addressed those controversial tweets that were dug up when he was first announced as the host.
Before cutting to the chase, Noah talked about his upbringing in apartheid-era South Africa, when, as GQ says, “his birth was evidence of a crime.” His family life didn’t get any easier when his mother remarried and Noah’s stepfather became abusive. Noah left home at 17 and started pursuing comedy, eventually landing his own special, The Daywalker, which was one of the first such shows to even exist in South Africa at that point. It was when he was preparing for that show that Noah learned his mother had been shot by his stepfather, whom she had divorced. She survived, but Noah figured out the hard way how to be one of those people who can laugh in the face of tragedy:
“It was one of those turning moments in life where I was like, ‘You know what? No one can ever tell me that line of ‘There’s nothing funny about X.’ If you can’t laugh, you have nothing.”
That’s a good segue into those tweets, which were old to begin with and clearly just an example of Noah trying to work out material. But he addressed them because there was no way he would make it out of a GQ interview without doing just that:
“You show me half my jokes from even two years ago, three years ago—I hate them. Because you see, like, a young version of yourself. You’re like, ‘Why would you say that? You idiot! That makes no sense.’ Or, ‘That’s just stupid.’ Or, ‘Ahh, I can’t believe I said that about a woman.’ You should not like what you did back then, because that shows that you’ve grown. If you’re still doing it, that’s a scarier place to be,” Noah says.
See? Even he knows they’re bad. Comedians tell a lot more bad jokes than they do good ones, but we live in a time when we do everything on Twitter, in public, for tons and tons of people. That’s comedy’s dirty little secret: You’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to material. And you’re only seeing the most sculpted, beautiful part of that iceberg, for that matter.
So, let’s get ready for Trevor Noah, everyone. He’s already got the suit, and he sure as hell has the talent.