Trevor Noah on His ‘Daily Show’ Plans and Jon Stewart’s Advice

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Daily Show’s’ Trevor Noah brings standup to T.O. before late-night gig kicks off.

Trevor Noah finally takes over “The Daily Show” on September 28th, and with every pre-air interview he grants, we learn more about the elusive heir to TV’s most beloved political satire franchise.Tonight is the night we’ll see if Trevor Noah has what it takes to fill the shoes recently vacated by Jon Stewart. “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” begins at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central.It may have been Stephen Colbert who told us we’d meet again some sunny day, but it was his friend and mentor Jon Stewart who returned on a starry night. In a new interview with Rolling Stone’s Jonah Weiner, Noah talked about his plans for the franchise; specifically, his plans to make it more diverse in its new iteration. “Already we have people coming in and the racial diversity of the correspondents has gone up dramatically,” explained Noah, who was born in Apartheid South Africa to a white Swiss father and a black South African mother. “I won’t tell you who they are but you will see them.

Timing’s a little tight, don’t you think? “Yeah, yeah, but this was way ahead, this was booked way before we knew anything about The Daily Show coming up,” Noah said. “So it really is close. CBS launches the new sitcom “Life in Pieces” at 8:30 p.m., in which stories are told from various points of view among members of the same family.

He also took advantage of the moment to do a comedy bit with a life-from-the-other-side theme. “You have craft services,” he said to the industry-thick crowd inside the Microsoft Theater. “Out in the world they have tables with food [too]. And luckily Just For Laughs is comedy, so you know, it’s not going to be something that takes me too out of my way, both mentally and physically.” Noah’s JFL42 comedy festival appearance in Toronto is scheduled for Saturday. The challenge for Noah, 31, is to honor what his forebear accomplished while ushering the show into a new era — one in which social-media drives news cycles as much as, if not more than, Stewart’s old cable-news foils, and one where programmers are scrambling to attract as many millennial eyeballs as possible.

And finding those voices is difficult but we’re lucky in that I’ve worked with great people of every color and I’ve worked with fantastic female writers as well. HBO airs a documentary about San Francisco at a contemporary crossroads at 9 p.m. “San Francisco 2.0” is directed by documentarian Alexandra Pelosi. “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” is a new PBS show featuring Philip Rosenthal, the genius behind “Everybody Loves Raymond,” who displays a whole new side as he wanders the world in search of great food.

The prizes also mark a return to Emmy glory for the show that won variety series (the award was split into sketch and talk categories this year) for 10 consecutive years until Comedy Central stablemate “The Colbert Report” broke its streak in 2013. So we’re bringing that into the room.” Noah, whose comedy deals extensively with the issues of race, also addressed the topic of racial injustice in the United States, saying that while he “wouldn’t say America is a white-supremacist country” he believes “America suffers from a level of institutionalized racial segregation.” “The effect of that is very similar to South Africa: It’s difficult to remedy that instantly,” he continued. “If you look at the legacy of slavery, if you look at the legacy of oppression…I mean even if you just look at women’s rights, take a step away from racial issues: Society has a long way to go in terms of getting women equal pay, equal recognition in the workplace, and so on. After all, most people know who he is now, or at least have heard of him. “I’m not at that stage yet,” Noah said with a laugh. “There are still people who don’t know who I am, depending on where I go.

The first episode will be a reintroduction of the show — but you can’t just go off one episode like, Oh I know what this is about, I know what this is. Pundits had wondered whether the Emmys might honor “Colbert,” which has gone off the air as its host moved to CBS earlier this month, or even HBO’s freshman series “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” anchored by another Stewart protege. But that’s nice, because I still get a fairly authentic response when I’m performing. “I find if you perform in the right venues with the right audiences, your fame only gets you so far anyway. But as with lead actor in a drama winner Jon Hamm, voters went with the performer now gone from the airwaves. (There was also the possibility voters could have commemorated the end of “Late Show With David Letterman,” a six-time winner of the top variety Emmy that this year received its first such nomination since 2009, but they went with Stewart instead.) The three “Daily Show” prizes — they also included Chuck O’Neil for directing and a writing team headed by Elliott Kalan — were the most for any regular series not named “Game of Thrones” or “Veep.” Backstage, Stewart took the opportunity to offer one more bit of self-deprecating wit. After tossing out some quips about one of his favorite subjects, Donald Trump, Stewart was asked whether he would submit the last batch of episodes of his “Daily Show” at next year’s Emmys; they would, after all, be eligible then.

While comics like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have accused political correctness of “killing comedy,” Noah himself is more on the fence. “I think there’s two conversations being rolled into one,” he said. “ The side that I think Jerry and Chris are referring to isn’t really political correctness — it refers more to a machine of outrage and a hunger for outrage that has become popular. There weren’t many L.A.-specific jokes in his repertoire that night, so I asked him if he ever caters his act to the city in which he’s performing. “It depends on the city,” Noah said. “If I get time to be in a city, or even if I notice anything, I will talk about something (local). My comedy is what’s on my mind, and if there’s something in the city on my mind, I’ll do something about that. “But I also spend a lot of time honing and crafting my act, so it’s not just me riffing when I come on stage. The behind-the-scenes work that goes into it is a lot harder than people think. “What has been easier is getting into the groove of working with the staff (on The Daily Show). If I have time in the evenings I’ll maybe try to catch a show on Broadway or do a bit of stand-up or whatever, then I start my next day working again.

We shouldn’t have been doing that or saying that!” When Weiner suggested that the outrage machine results in a “a lack of precision in how we deal with and respond to comedic speech, as distinct from other kinds of public speech,” Noah compared comedy to a research laboratory, in that experimentation is necessary to get to the finished product. “The things we are doing in there are not for everyone to be doing,” he added. “It’s not what everyone can be doing. It’s lucky that I was part of the team before Jon even announced his departure, so it has been a lot more easy to transition into that position than I thought it would be.” “Oh, everyone, everyone, everyone on the street, everyone in an office, everyone on Twitter, everyone has advice for me, everyone stops me to give me advice,” he said. “And then Jon’s advice was, ‘Don’t take anybody’s advice.’ But I didn’t know if that was a trick, because it might mean that I shouldn’t take his advice. But now because of the social-media world we live in, people take it out of there and now you’ve got somebody basically running around with a test tube in the middle of the street, and that’s not the place that a test tube should be. Standing on a stage and telling jokes about your life as a mixed-race man was radical to the degree that it would have likely been criminal a decade earlier. But I think over time, by traveling, and through meeting other comedians, I’ve also come to learn and enjoy comedy about the mundane: Sometimes it’s just great to make people laugh about something really stupid.

On the subject of free speech, people like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have complained recently about what they see as the chilling effect of a new strain of political correctness on comedy — they argue that some people who are interested in social justice, of a certain generation, can’t take jokes. Instead of getting off their asses and actually being a part of some sort of movement, they just want to put a hashtag on it and go, “This is my stamp, this is me supporting something.” And that’s not really activism. To a certain extent, Donald Trump makes it almost too easy: He is giving you the joke and it’s nice to get the joke — but sometimes it’s nice to work for the joke!

Maybe he was just a farewell present to Jon Stewart. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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