Trevor Noah and the Lazy Art of Mistimed Racial Stereotypes

Pop Culture

Trevor Noah and the Lazy Art of Mistimed Racial Stereotypes

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

W

hen South African comedian Trevor Noah took over The Daily Show from Jon Stewart, I wondered how he’d helm the one-desk rant corner that, during the Bush administration, had grown into a Peabody-wielding heavyweight. Born during apartheid, Noah is not American, nor was he one of the regular correspondents like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, or Samantha Bee, who were earmarked to succeed Stewart, and who’ve ended up flourishing in the post-truth Trump era. How would he take over a beloved satire show that has literally spawned its own genre of political commentary?

I needn’t have worried. With his dimpled charm and universal appeal, Noah’s appointment turned out to be a breath of fresh air. He brought the cloister of US politics into the 21st century. For the first time, through Noah, non-Americans and people of colour actually had a voice: Someone to make biting jokes about European colonial legacies, who was just as baffled by mass shootings and triple-decker cheeseburgers as we were.

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