Comedy Central says that replacement Daily Show host Trevor Noah shouldn't be judged solely on his old tweets, which many have been highlighting today as sexist and anti-Semitic. "Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included," Comedy Central says in a statement. "To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central."
"Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" - fat chicks everywhere.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 14, 2011
Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) May 12, 2014
The statement makes it clear that Comedy Central stands behind its selection of Noah — evidently, it won't be changing its decision to give him the hosting gig when Jon Stewart steps down later this year. Notably, the statement does not acknowledge that some of the jokes being highlighted were quite obviously offensive, instead calling them "provocative."
Being provocative is certainly important for a comedian — especially one about to be running what is arguably the most important name in satire right now — but some of Noah's tweets quite clearly crossed the line from pushing boundaries to repeating tired stereotypes. Noah's prior comedy has, however, included smart commentary on international and cultural issues, which is likely why Comedy Central believes that he's a wise choice, even in spite of these obvious missteps.
Update 5:54PM ET: Noah later tweeted out his own thoughts, echoing Comedy Central's statement.
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015