Comedy Central has found a new host for The Daily Show: Trevor Noah, a South African comedian who has appeared as a contributor to the show three times over the past year. According to The New York Times, Noah will be announced as Jon Stewart's replacement today. Noah may be a surprising choice, both as a lesser-known name and with respect to the wealth of regular talent on The Daily Show that Comedy Central is passing over, but as a standup comedian and a series contributor, Noah has consistently offered thoughtful perspectives on social issues and international news stories. He's also quite funny.
"He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with."
A date has not yet been set for Stewart's departure or Noah's debut as host. "I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor," Stewart says in a statement, according to the Times. "He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with."
With Noah heading to The Daily Show, both of Comedy Central's late night series will soon feature hosts who aren't white — all while the other big names in late night continue to face criticism over their lack of diversity. The Times asked Comedy Central about the possibility of choosing a woman as host, which the network says it considered. "We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job," Michele Ganeless, president of Comedy Central, tells the Times. Later, Ganeless describes why Noah was ultimately chosen: "He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful."
No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 30, 2015
Noah is not a widely known comedian (at least in the US), but neither was Stewart when he took on the job. "[Stewart] told me, 'I was where you were when I took over the show,'" Noah tells the Times. "'Nobody knew me. I was just starting out, finding my voice, and that’s when I was handed this seat.'" Noah, likewise, will have the opportunity to reshape the show with his voice.
The Daily Show that fans know and love today is very much Stewart's Daily Show — the show looked quite different and had a far smaller political bent under its prior host. It's hard to imagine a Daily Show that doesn't focus on politics at this point, but Noah's comedy already focuses on racial issues and social commentary, so the show's angle may not change dramatically. Noah previously hosted two seasons of his own late night talk show in South Africa.
"Our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different."
While Noah seems like a smart fit for the show, it's hard to imagine that this is how Comedy Central imagined Stewart's handoff playing out. The network lost John Oliver — the series' most obvious successor — to HBO after he completed a wildly successful stint filling in as host. Stephen Colbert left his show last year and is heading over to CBS to host the Late Show after Letterman leaves. And two of The Daily Show's most experienced correspondents, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, are now leaving the network for TBS.
Comedy Central says that its goal hasn't been to find someone who can replicate Stewart's appeal, however. "You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart — there is no next Jon Stewart," Ganeless tells the Times. "So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different." More than most departing Daily Show staff, it certainly sounds like Noah has the potential to do that.
Below is Noah's first appearance on The Daily Show, from December 2014:
Following the announcement, Noah retweeted this:
Thank you president Obama pic.twitter.com/PgFJCCyRTa— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 30, 2015