Trevor Noah continues to fumble: The rookie host doesn’t quite get the …

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How Trevor Noah’s ‘The Daily Show’ is like a new iPhone.

From Marco Rubio’s opinion on the Biggie and Tupac feud to the mutual admiration between Ben Carson and Kanye West, Trevor Noah took some time on Tuesday night’s episode of The Daily Show to mock the recent pandering between politicians and celebrities. In his review of Trevor Noah’s debut as Jon Stewart’s successor, the New York Times‘ Jim Poniewozik compares the new version of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” to a new iPhone—“sleeker, fresher and redesigned”—but doing essentially the same thing. “If Mr.

In a segment called “Panderdemic 2016,” Noah addressed Kanye West’s regard for Carson and Carson’s shared respect for the rapper, even advising West to make more uplifting music. “Oh wow, Ben Carson’s giving Kanye West music advice,” Noah said, then in a monotone voice, mocked what a Carson mixtape would sound like. “Now I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messing,” Noah began, stopping before the N-word that would follow and pretending to fall asleep. Ratings data on Tuesday showed that Noah’s first outing drew about the same TV audience as Jon Stewart’s farewell in August after 16 years with the late night Comedy Central show.

The circumstances remain the same: Women are not dominating late-night television for the same reason that they’re not running most corporations or most countries. Rookie host Trevor Noah went after President Obama’s awkward day with Russian President Vladimir Putin before pivoting to “investigate,” with only some sincerity, how ISIS makes money and how American candidates for president are pandering to young people. That algorithm, capable of processing a day’s media inputs into a satirically argued package, is what makes ‘The Daily Show’ ‘The Daily Show.’ This first outing was about proving that he could run the software without crashing.” That’s good, but neither “algorithm” nor “operating system” goes quite far enough. Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had travelled to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly and visited Noah at his studios. “Mr.

In Apple’s case, it’s a product creation process that “crystallizes” (Marc Andreessen’s term) a new category, which the rest of the industry then scrambles to copy. Yes, Noah mined some clever material from the Pope’s US visit and Speaker of the House John Boehner’s resignation, but there were more than a few clunkers. As promised, the South African-born comedian made few changes to the format of political and pop culture satire and a nightly interview that was developed by Stewart. “I just have to ask: What were we all so afraid of?” he said. … The method by which Apple accomplishes this is not well understood—especially on Wall Street, where Cupertino’s latest hit is generally assumed to be its last.

Especially bad was a joke about the Pope ‘undercompensating’ by driving a small car. ‘I’m saying the Pope has a huge cock’, Noah had to explain. The last thing they want is an edgy, scintillating discussion, with the raucous laughter and powerful voice of a singularly funny, smart female host who, on a nightly basis, shapes one of the most significant conversations in contemporary culture. The process is often described in terms bordering on the mythical. “The culmination of this hypothesis,” wrote Asymco’s Horace Dediu in a 2013 essay Why doesn’t anybody copy Apple?, “is the ‘chief-sorcerer’ theory of success which places one magician in charge of casting all the right spells.” “It’s complex, it’s subtle, it defies explanation but it’s not magic. And then there was an absolute groaner about Boehner being the bouncer at ‘Club Congress’ which is a boring club because ‘everyone has AIDS’, explaining his pun on ‘aides’.

The Putin/Obama segment sailed without too much trouble, but this bogged him down a little in the ISIS segment, where Noah could not quite finesse the admittedly difficult balance between mocking idiocy and denouncing evil. Masego Serape, public relations manager for South African radio station Power FM, said Noah delivered a “brilliant” performance that included commentary on American politics, a frequent source of satire for Stewart. “That opening monologue.

Can you imagine what Stephen Colbert would have done with the observation that ISIS is celebrating 9/11, a terrorist attack they did not even perpetrate, by minting gold coins with the World Trade Center on them? That was beautiful,” tweeted Simmi Areff, a South African comedian, referring to Noah’s tribute to Stewart and the challenge of taking over as a relatively unknown figure in the United States. “He was often our voice, our refuge and in many ways our political dad,” Noah said of Stewart. “And it’s weird because dad has left and now it feels like the family has a new stepdad — and he’s black.” Or the face Jon Stewart would have made while watching the correspondents’ fake Home Shopping Network for Palmyrian antiquities, while clutching his sheets of light blue paper? As scholars who study gender and humor have pointed out, women’s humor ruffles feathers, with “gender stereotypes” hindering “the development and recognition of women’s humor.” At the same time, there’s no question that a long line of women would make brilliant empresses of late night programming; Tina Fey and Ellen DeGeneres would be effective, engaging, wildly entertaining and hilarious hosts. Noah’s real success was the “Panderemic” segment, where he observed Marco Rubio talking up Tupac and Biggie, Kanye West and Ben Carson making public overtures towards each other, and Lena Dunham’s interview of Hillary Clinton on her newsletter Lenny, which launched just yesterday.

Rubio is an easy target; West and Carson are more difficult, but with a Kardashian joke and a quick impression of Carson’s narcotic delivery style, Noah pulled both off. I suspect that studio heads and the advertisers responsible for programming remain afraid that putting a women behind the desk will lead to a decline in male viewership. (Meanwhile, they don’t seem all too concerned about the female share.) It’s the 50-and-older crowd that reliably continues to tune into live programming for news and entertainment. There’s a lot to say about the perplexing existence of an exclusive Hillary Clinton interview on Lenny—about journalism, the conflation of celebrity and politics, the desperate repackaging of Clinton as “girly,” and hell, even the name of the newsletter, which is flat-out terrible. But Noah went for low-hanging fruit—Dunham’s face when Clinton said she identified as a feminist was so over-the-moon happy, Noah said, in a way she hadn’t been since HBO’s offices went clothing-optional. Perhaps more understandably, his dig at Clinton wasn’t much of one, either; he laughed at her non-enthusiasm when she described the process of voting, but he’s probably laying aside any real (and low-hanging) barbs until after he’s determined whether or not she’ll be a guest on the show.

Even though Christopher Hitchens’ Why Women Aren’t Funny is now a few years old, it remains emblematic of his generation’s beliefs about a conventional, biological and historical inability to create comedy and humor. Humorists are always at the head of their generation’s class, given their ability to willfully and wickedly push, prod and pinch their audiences into thought, emotion and laughter. While Noah becomes comfortable in with his position, he’s leaving a lot of unused material on the table; there’s so much slack that could have been picked up in this episode, especially with the interview segment—with Whitney Wolfe, CEO of Bumble, a dating app. The women who create humor articulate what’s ubiquitous but unspoken; they say, with wit and courage, what most of us are too cowardly or anxious to admit. In much the same way that we need comedians of different racial backgrounds, female comedians can tackle subjects that are taboo, or that white male comedians can’t address with as much insight or depth.

But what interested me was how interested Noah himself was in the topic—he seemed to want to address how women feel in dating, and what these differences in behavior might mean, but was unable to create a rapport with Wolfe until just a few seconds before the end of the interview. While they’re at it, the best of them help us find our own humor in the everyday; they help us remember to laugh at what we didn’t find funny the first time around. By questioning, mocking and demystifying the world, funny women illustrate that humor is our culture’s third rail: electrified, powerful and dangerous. He ended the interview by mocking himself, a bit, and suggesting he join Bumble; Wolfe complimented his Instagram profile photos—and added it was likely women would message him often. When women’s voices are heard more effectively during the day in more places, I’m sure we’ll be able to have them heard above a whisper after midnight.

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