Arts, Television, Column

Trevor Noah Valiantly Carries On Jon Stewart’s War

It’s still weird to see someone new in the chair. As much as I’ve enjoyed the revamped show so far, there’s still this little part of me that wants Jon Stewart to appear behind The Daily Show desk when I flip on the TV at 11. Trevor Noah, who started his reign on the Comedy Central late night talk show last week, looks well suited (both literally and figuratively) for the position, but it’ll take some time to adjust.

Looking back at old clips of Jon Stewart from the last couple years, he looked overwhelmingly tired. I used to mistake his fatigue for aging, but it’s become more apparent (mostly because of the emphasis Stewart recently has placed on how much work he put into the program) that his eyes weren’t naturally sagging so much as he probably had to put all his effort into keeping them open from exhaustion. I appreciated the last couple months of Jon Stewart’s run at The Daily Show, but it’s completely understandable that, after 16 years on the job he wanted a change in scenery (and probably pace).

After about a month of reruns, Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show last Monday. I hadn’t really thought much about the show much in the month leading up to Monday’s airing, but a surge of excitement ran through me that day. I realized I missed my nightly fill on what was happening around the country.

Much like Jon Stewart, I detest the 24-hour news cycle. I especially don’t trust any of the major 24-hour news channels to deliver unbiased reports. I’ve found a couple of online publishers like Vice and VOX that I trust enough to read every once and awhile, but I’m a slow reader and I don’t put in the necessary effort to get, what I consider to be, a great understanding of political issues.

Sure, does The Daily Show give me a huge amount of information in its format? No. It doesn’t play the numbers games that 24-hour news cycles go through. But I don’t trust their numbers. I trust the crew at The Daily Show with their interpretations of the numbers. I might be buying into simply a narrative different from the one you’ll hear on 24-hour news channels, but after years of sifting through different programs, I think I’ve found the right one.

Jon Stewart started a legacy that Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, seems genuinely interested in holding up during his run. Sincerity was the first thing that showed me Noah might be the right man for the job. His first show proved that, to an extent, he knew what he was getting into. He went through his first segment, talking about the Pope’s trip to America, with an admirable confidence. In his second segment of the night, Noah acknowledged how much of a task taking over for Stewart would be. I liked that he recognized the prestige of his new position and how much the show means to regular viewers.

There were a couple aspects of Noah’s performance, however, that were a bit worrisome. He still need to adjust to the comic timing of The Daily Show. The inflexions in his voice are a bit awkward at times, and the pace of his speech can be uneven. Also, his interviews feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the fact that his guests have no relationship with him yet, or it could be that he’s just getting used to the format of a television interview, but so far his interviews have been forced. While most talk show hosts probably have their questions prepared beforehand, great talk show hosts make their conversations flow naturally, not particularly like a Q&A on Reddit. Granted, Noah has just started the program, so it would be unfair to judge him so harshly right out the gate. A couple months in the seat will hopefully do him well.

It’s great to have The Daily Show back, especially with some new blood flowing through it. I miss seeing Jon Stewart every other night, but I’m glad that he has the time to pursue other endeavors he’s interested in. I’m not sure how much of Jon’s writing crew stayed with the new Daily Show, but the transition hasn’t hindered its humor at all. Trevor Noah’s done a great job addressing and then dismissing the pressure of replacing Jon Stewart, too. It’s great to have a foreigner reporting our news. I’ve loved hearing his opinion on the oddities of our political system and its dependent news coverage. All Noah needs is a little time to wear in the cushion on his swivel-chair and he’ll probably have a first class act up and running in no time.

Featured Image by Comedy Central

October 7, 2015