Comedy Central took the world by surprise this morning with the announcement that Trevor Noah, the Senior International Correspondent who was relatively unknown in the United States, and who has only appeared on The Daily Show three times since debuting in December of last year, is to take the reins when Jon Stewart departs as host.
But who is this guy? Is he the right choice as Stewart’s replacement? In the New York Times piece that broke the news of his hiring, Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless said: “He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful.” She added, “He’s truly a student of the world.”
At just 31 years old, the South African native has had more life experiences than most men twice his age. Noah was born to a Xhosa mother and a Swiss father and grew up during the apartheid in Soweto, where the mixed race union of his parents was highly illegal. Despite the challenges he faced as a person of mixed-race ethnicity, Noah is resourceful, intelligent, and fluent in six languages.
He began his career at age 18 with a role on a popular South African soap opera, and from there, he went on to host his own youth radio show, Noah’s Ark. From 2004 to 2006, he hosted an educational show called Run the Adventure on a South African TV station, which led to a bunch of other hosting opportunities, including his own talk show, Tonight with Trevor Noah.
In the late aughts, Noah focused primarily on stand-up comedy, touring South Africa with many well-known comedians and quickly becoming a popular comedian himself all over the world. In 2011, Noah was the subject of his own documentary about preparing for his first-ever one-man comedy show, You Laugh, But It’s True, which is available on Netflix.
By the time Noah was approached to contribute on The Daily Show last year, he had tons of professional and real-world experience under his belt despite still being unfamiliar to most American viewers. His first piece for The Daily Show came at a time when the country was divided over the riots in Ferguson, which he aptly compared to the apartheid he grew up with:
His most recent piece for The Daily Show was just two weeks ago, in which Noah made a topic as mundane as chess entertaining:
In the coming days and weeks, there will obviously be a ton of think pieces about why Trevor Noah is or is not a good choice as Jon Stewart’s replacement. But from where I’m sitting, I see a smart, charismatic, accomplished, world-savvy, and devastatingly handsome (those dimples tho!) new host of The Daily Show. It will be sad to say goodbye to Jon Stewart, but at the same time, I’m excited for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.