Trevor Noah, a South African comedian with a low profile in the United States, will inherit one of the most-watched pulpits in latenight TV: Jon Stewart’s desk on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show.”
The Viacom-owned outlet said the comic’s debut as host would be announced at a later date.
In choosing Noah, a 31-year-old of mixed-race parentage, Comedy Central is banking that following a tried-and-true formula will keep the program that is arguably the linchpin of its schedule top of mind among its core audience of young male viewers. Twice now, executives at the network have identified an up-and-coming talent, and we’re rewarded on both occasions with a higher profile for the show. Noah will be only the third host of the program, following an early stint by Craig Kilborn and Stewart’s well-chronicled reign.
Noah has “such a unique and powerful voice,” said Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, in an interview Monday morning. Executives feel he is “a gifted comedian and storyteller,” she added. “He was not a new face to us, but he will be to a lot of people.” Stewart himself was involved as an “adviser” in the selection process, she said.
Noah has the kind of experience that would seem to be de rigueur for a host of “The Daily Show,” which, under Stewart has not only made fun of headlines of the day, but also of the news outlets that deliver them. Noah has hosted numerous television shows, including his own latenight talk show in his native country, “Tonight With Trevor Noah.” And he is no stranger to analyzing controversial topics. Born in South African to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father, he once told an audience, “I was born a crime,” according to a 2013 report in the Wall Street Journal.
With that sort of willingness to discuss sensitive topics head-on, Noah would appear to fit the bill being written under Kent Alterman, the network’s president of original programming. In the recent past, Comedy Central has sought people able to articulate a unique world view. The network has found success with programs featuring comedienne Amy Schumer as well as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, a duo who star in the program “Broad City.”