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Photo: Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah
On September 29th, Trevor Noah announced that after seven years he would be leaving ‘The Daily Show.’ The South African comedian has been the latest host of the show, crafting the jokes and his comedic persona in his own humorous image. However, one can’t help comparing his departure to that of his predecessor, the late-night giant and activist that made ‘The Daily Show’ so innovative in the first place: Jon Stewart. While there were many differences between the two comedians’ exits, a lot of the same questions are being asked.oah
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What Will They Mean to Audiences Down the Line?
Their respective legacies will be fairly different. However, this is also an unfair comparison. While he wasn’t the first host (that honor belongs to Craig Kilborn), Jon Stewart had the privilege of coming on early enough in the show’s history when its tone wasn’t as clearly defined. It hadn’t really attracted a massive audience at that point, and therefore it hadn’t really found a specific audience yet. Stewart changed all of this. He very quickly found his niche through the creation of segments such as the recurring ‘Indecision,’ where he covered the election results with humor and wit. After Stewart left, it was hard to imagine that the show would maintain the same style and tone of incisiveness. His legacy is not only his personal comedic style, but the fact that he pioneered a new genre of television that has become a permanent staple of our cultural landscape. He’ll always be known as the person who created the version of ‘The Daily Show’ we all came to know and love.
While Trevor Noah’s legacy doesn’t have to do with creating a genre, his legacy has much more to do with how he chose to continue it. Jon Stewart personally chose him to be his successor after spending a year as the international correspondent for the show. Stewart wanted to shake things up, and believed that Trevor had a worldview that was very unique from his own. Born in South Africa under apartheid to a black mother and white father, Noah has been very open about how this experience shaped his comedy and worldview. It has impacted most facets of what he has chosen to talk about in his professional career, discussing it in comedy shows and his autobiography Born a Crime. ‘The Daily Show’ was no exception. He partially used his host privileges on the show as a platform to talk about global politics, and has used his upbringing as a comparison to other important issues. His reach on the show’s view of politics expanded and had a more international approach. His childhood equipped him with the perceptive grasp needed to comment on the ever-increasing extreme climate of the world.
Trevor Noah – When They Announced Retirement, the Community of Fans Had Different Reactions
Jon announced in April 2015 that he would be leaving that August. This announcement came two months after his official announcement of retirement that February. The time frame he set in stone for his departure was pretty swift. It was felt by everyone, too: during those short few months right before his retirement, there was an effusive outpouring of love and admiration. It put in context just how much the faux anchor had impacted pop culture, and how much society would miss him. Comedy Central knew this, and compiled special clips to celebrate his innovative career. Clips included everything from famous comedic bits (various “Moment of Zen” bits) to serious (such as his first monologue post-9/11). For most of his time as host, Stewart didn’t release much content outside of the show. The one major exception to this was ‘Rosewater,’ a film he wrote and directed about real-life story of journalist Maziar Bahari. During this time, he enlisted John Oliver to fill his absence. This was also near the end of his tenure, made merely a year before his retirement. Most of his other major film and television projects came afterward. This lines up with one of the reasons why he said he finally quit the show. He didn’t feel like he was given much time to explore other hobbies or create other material, which eventually took its toll on him.
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Trevor’s official announcement came on September 29th, and he has just announced that his final episode will be on December 8th of this year. In the context of that date being barely two months away, the initial exit announcement in some way feels even more sudden than Jon Stewart’s announcement. Comedy Central has mentioned that it will be putting together a special commemorating the highlights and greatest moments of his tenure as host. This will most likely include his coverage of the Trump presidency, the first term of Biden’s presidency, the Pandemic, and the war on Ukraine. Unlike Stewart at the time, Noah has talked a little bit about what he wants to do after ‘The Daily Show.’ He has decided to focus on stand-up comedy. His newest special will be out on November 22nd. He released two stand-up comedy specials while hosting his show, respectively titled ‘Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark’ and ‘Trevor Noah: Lost in Translation.’ If he brings his usual force of comedic, creative, and international entertainment, then these specials will be highly successful.
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While The New Host Will Have Much to Live Up To, We Should Expect Them To Be a Good One
Things were very uncertain when Jon left. Most people only knew of The Daily Show as it was made in Stewart’s image. To most people, he was the “first” host, which means he had defined its comedic message and tone, and the specific way it fixated on politics. Nobody knew what the next era of the show would look like, because a new host most likely meant a whole new kind of show.
As Noah leaves, people are also very anxious, but in a slightly different way. Trevor saw many different humanitarian crises, natural disasters, and culture-shifting global historical events during his time as host. Due to this, he was forced to come up with impossibly thoughtful responses to often life-changing global conditions that were continually unraveling. In terms of having a high level of insight drawn from an extremely complex lived experience, the next host will have a very unique challenge.
By Zachary DePiore
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