On this day in comedy on February 20, 1984 Comedian, Host, Actor, Trevor Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Initially known in America as Jon Stewart’s successor on The Daily Show, Noah has always carried more weight than most. When his Swiss/German father and Xhosa/Jewish mother ended their illegal relationship due to apartheid (she was jailed and he moved back to Switzerland), Noah was raised by his mother and grandmother. That is until his mother married, got divorced and then was shot in the face by her jealous ex for getting engaged to another man. Noah was also threatened with death and moved from Johannesburg to Los Angeles, California in 2011.
Prior to relocating Noah had made his mark in Africa where themes of race were basic to his material. He broke onto the public scene at the age of 18 in 2002 starring on the South African soap opera, Isidingo. He hosted his own radio show (Noah’s Ark) on YFM, a leading youth radio station; hosted an educational show on SABC2; a gossip show and a sports show on SABC 1 and a dating show called The Amazing Date. Noah hosted the South Africa Film and Television Awards, The Axe Sweet Life (a reality competition show), his own show, Tonight with Trevor Noah and he was a spokesperson for one of the largest cellular providers in South Africa, Cell C. He’s performed all over South Africa, toured with Gabriel Iglesias and taped multiple standup comedy specials. He was the first South African comedian to perform stand up on The Tonight Show in 2012 and the first to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2013. He’s been the subject of a documentary, a Roast Master on Comedy Central and a recurring contributor on The Daily Show.
So when Comedy Central announced Jon Stewart’s replacement in March 2015 they were confident the seasoned Trevor Noah was ready. Yet despite the fact the takeover wasn’t going to happen until September, the internet was abuzz about how Stewart was irreplaceable and that this guy Noah had no right to be in a successor conversation. Haters trolled YouTube looking for incriminating evidence to support their case and he had some. They uncovered several jokes of his that did not work. Social media was aghast. A comedian who has bombed before. Unheard of! He was called anti-Jewish even though he is part Jewish, but fortunately the network ignored the firestorm and Noah made his debut. His self-described politically progressive style fit right into The Daily Show mindset. Though it took a moment for the audience to get used to the new host, Noah drew his crowd to him and the long running signature program kept bringing in viewers. So much for irreplaceability.
Trevor Noah speaks more than a half dozen languages fluently and has won the 2012 South African Comic’s Choice Comic of the Year Award and the 2015 MTV Africa Music Award for Personality of the Year.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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