Nirav Desai, staff writer
Trevor Noah’s succession of Jon Stewart atop the beloved throne of satirical news is a refreshing one, as the vibrant South African appears to be a much-needed source of joy on a show that, at times, suffered from its ex-host’s gradual burnout.
Amid a wave of disorienting changes in the late-night landscape, Noah initially stood out for all the wrong reasons. The discovery of tasteless tweets from the 31-year-old comedian’s recent past ignited a storm of preemptive disdain for Comedy Central’s newest standard-bearer.
“We will say, though, that these jokes are all pretty hacky and we hope Noah’s improved his joke-writing skills since then,“ Katie Rife of The AV Club said.
Flash forward to the present day, and Noah’s critics have essentially changed their tune, with Erik Adams, also of The AV Club, saying that “there’s nothing wrong with letting Noah lead with how much he enjoys being behind the wheel.”
Indeed, Noah’s charm and unbridled glee frequently mingle with the sense of professionalism instilled into the format by Stewart, as evidenced by Noah’s smiling takedowns of hypocritical GOP presidential candidates. One could even argue that Noah’s professionalism has become the rising star’s first line of defense against tough cases in the news.
Simply listen to Noah’s in-depth comparison of a Donald Trump presidency to the reigns of Africa’s worst tyrants. A rookie satirist may have experienced soul-crushing discord behind the scenes of a comedic institution in transition, as Jon Stewart did in 1999, that would have made such a biting commentary impossible. However, Noah’s first slew of shows have only given off the impression that he is working in an environment that fully lends itself to his budding talents.
Some may claim Comedy Central’s ploy of marketing Noah to viewers as a young minority was an intentional distraction intended to prevent a dip in ratings for a show that will always be considered Stewart’s show. That is possible, but marketing tactics aside, there should be no doubt that the show’s newfound youth and “globalism,” as it was jokingly called it in Noah’s debut episode, are effective weapons. This was apparent when the show introduced Ronny Chieng as its new Senior Technology Correspondent. The fictional position, piloted by Ed Helms in 2004, now displays the show’s one-two punch of youth and diversity, with Chieng, an Indonesian raised in Australia, already garnering praise on international websites.
Chieng, Desi Lyric and Roy Wood Jr. are the latest additions to a cast that is keen to overtake the previous group of correspondents headlined by the likes of John Oliver, Jason Jones and Samantha Bee. Certainly, they have the depth and range to do so since Jessica Williams, Jordan Klepper and Hasan Minhaj remain as rock-solid contributors from the Stewart era, which had its fair share of clashes between cast-members and Stewart.
As more and more viewers consider these factors, the chorus of cheers for Noah will only grow louder and louder. Students at Beverly would be wise to not ignore the man who seems poised to take over late-night television.