Today, The Daily Show finally made its decision on who’s taking over the most coveted parody desk in America. Of course they’d choose someone you’ve never heard.
But that’s exactly what Comedy Central did 17 years ago when they replaced Craig Kilborn with little known comedian Jon Stewart. Most people didn’t know who he was. But 17 years later, do you think that matters now?
So that’s where I stand as Comedy Central announced Trevor Noah as the new host of the channel’s flagship show. Others can debated whether he’s a good choice or not. I think he’s the right choice. If “filling big shoes” are people’s concern, just look at the last two years alone: it’s full of small talent surpassing “big shoes” expectations. Fallon did it from Leno. James Corden is doing well from Ferguson (so far). Colbert will more than likely do well following Letterman. Granted, only one of the three is relatively unknown; but Corden’s recognition will grow over time, and so will Noah’s.
So what does Trevor Noah actually bring to The Daily Show? Well, for one, Noah was named one of Forbes’ 2013 African-Americans to Watch. I guess they nailed that. Secondly, Noah hosted his own show back in 2010 called Tonight with Trevor Noah in South America for two seasons. So he does have the hosting experience. Thirdly, while not known in a widespread context, he is well known among other comedians. YouTube will back that claim alone.
Lastly, Noah will be able to give race-related and international-related topics the certain voice Stewart couldn’t. Stewart did defend race-related issues (have you ever seen Stewart battle Bill O’Reilly on White Privilege? It’s a show in itself). But Noah will pack the little “umph” youth helps with, along with being from a country known for their treatment of blacks. Plus, it helps Daily Show finally counter HBO’s Last Week Tonight with some international presence, while also filling the international void left by John Oliver.
So was this a home run? It’s a bigger home run than people initially think. Think about it: A minority. Has little national recognition. A proven talent that still has something to prove.
17 years ago, we’d be talking about the same guy. And no one knew who he was either.