Trevor Noah’s ‘Daily Show’ Won’t Be Jon Stewart’s

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

8 things we learned on the set of Trevor Noah’s revamped ‘Daily Show’.

Most of his peers would kill to get the platform he’ll officially command on Monday, when the first episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah debuts on Comedy Central. Trevor Noah recently found himself in an unusual position for someone who hosts Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”: He thought a Republican politician made a lot of sense. At the same time, they must be relieved that they won’t face Noah’s formidable challenge: winning over the same passionate audience that made former Daily Show host Jon Stewart the most trusted man in late-night — and maybe even across TV news itself. “Of course there’s pressure,” Noah told a group of journalists who gathered for a Q&A session at The Daily Show’s studio Friday morning. “When it matters, there should always be pressure. Noah was watching a recent debate among Republican candidates for President, and discovered he agreed with some of the ideas being put forth by Rand Paul, the Kentucky Senator. “He was saying things that were sane at the debates,” Noah recalled.

And in a Q&A with reporters on Friday morning, he offered a preview of what viewers can expect — and also offered his thoughts on a wide range of issues, from Ryan Adams’ Taylor Swift cover album to the very recent news of Speaker John Boehner’s resignation. Accented in gray, brown, deep reds and blues, the set evokes his predecessor’s, albeit with some subtle tweaks — which seems to be Noah’s approach to the show itself. “I look at ‘The Daily Show’ as a beautiful house that I’ve inherited,” Noah explained, looking handsome and at ease as he perched on a director’s chair in front of the anchor desk. “I’m not going to break the house down and start trying to build a house from there; I go ‘this is a beautiful house that’s been there for many years, it’s a landmark.’ So what I’ll try and do is create it into the home of my dreams, using my new family.” “So as time goes on, I’ll be breaking down a wall here, changing a color there, moving a counter over there,” he added. “But you will know there’s a new person living in the house, because you’ll be complaining about the noise.” In terms of guests, Noah seems to be aiming for a familiar mix of entertainers, politicians and cultural figures, although he says his show will include more musical performances. He made his American television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African comedian to do so. During the session, Noah explained the decision-making process that went into crafting the show’s first week of guests, which includes Kevin Hart, Chris Christie, and Ryan Adams. “Every single guest is there for a reason,” Noah said. For the first week’s lineup, Noah outlined how each guest was chosen to make a statement about the show’s revamped identity: Comedian Kevin Hart (“that’s what the show is, it is a comedy show first and foremost”), Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe (“like myself, a new voice in a space, but from a female side”), musician and Taylor Swift disrupter Ryan Adams (“he’s done in essence what we’ve done here: he’s taken something loved and cherished by many and created a new version”).

And in the newest clip from Comedy Central, released today, his correspondents are equally reassuring. “Same political satire you love,” says Jordan Klepper, “new British host.” But Noah emphasized in today’s press conference that as a South African native, his outsider’s perspective will shape how he approaches—and criticizes—American poltics. The promo includes Klepper and Minhaj playing up American ignorance of Noah’s homeland of South Africa, while Walters and Hodgman assure us that there are still old people on the show — including an old white man, as Hodgman points out in a nod to the prevalence of the demographic in late-night.

He jests from the standpoint of someone born to a black mother and a white father 10 years before apartheid ended (“I was born a crime,” he sums up) whose mother had to walk ahead of him as a toddler, pretending not to know him if she saw the police. “I come from a crazy place,” he says. “When I was 25, my mother was shot in the head by my stepfather, an abusive alcoholic. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie was picked to confirm that “the show is still going to be political; it’s still going to be American politics.” But it remains to be seen how Noah will deal with the intricacies of the American political system that were his former boss’s bread and butter. Instead of bashing Fox News, Noah said that he wants time to make his own enemies. “I get to discover the person I will grow to loathe, to hate, and they may not be on Fox News,” he said.

Jon Stewart was mired in the system, and the South African-born Noah is much more of an outsider — a viewpoint he intends to use to his advantage in the writers’ room. “I also bring in a certain level of ‘did you see this other thing that comes from another place,’ and then we get to talk about that,” he explained. “They get an outsider’s perspective.” As he reiterated a few times, Noah doesn’t see his learning curve as a disadvantage. He’s now gone into a world where he was the ‘the best black comedian,’ and now he’s just Kevin Hart.’” “And Ryan Adams, I think was a beautiful mix of many different worlds of music,” Noah went on. “He comes from … I wouldn’t say an extreme underground world, but he’s not an ultimate pop star, let’s say. Then you’ll be setting yourself free.’” He found a certain freedom in comedy, which he pursued, he says, not to vent his spleen, as with many comedians, “but because I made people laugh.” A man of mixed race and a stormy childhood, he saw himself as a perpetual outsider. Take covering the recent Republican debates: Noah said he and his team worked together to figure out how to stay true to the show’s brand and to his sensibilities simultaneously. “For the writers, they’ve got a history with all of these people,” he explained. “I’m watching the debate and someone says something about something one of the politicians did 10, 15 years ago, and they’re like ‘that’s like the time that happened.’ And I’m the person going ‘why is that funny?

Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” had an unusual modus operandi: “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” By trying to stay neutral until evidence compelled him not to be, Carraway kept relationships others might have forsaken. Comedy Central is banking on Noah’s willingness to open lines of communication so audiences keep tuning in to what is arguably not only the flagship program of the cable network, but also its owner, Viacom. Comedy Central sees Noah as “the next evolution in the franchise that is ‘The Daily Show,’” said Michele Ganeless, the network’s longtime president. And I was like, ‘I don’t know, seems like a pretty amazing guy to me.’” While Rand may be the first candidate in Noah’s heart, he seems open to whichever GOP candidates want to step into the ring with him. Noah, too, plans a similar shift — away from the Fox News and MSNBC talking heads Stewart loved to savage and toward more contemporary news sources, like social media.

After saying that he’d love to have Ben Carson on because “it would be a very energetic interview,” he spoke a little bit about Donald Trump, a notoriously slippery interview subject — even Colbert seemed to have a tough time with the blustering candidate when he appeared on “The Late Show” earlier this week. “Donald Trump is an interesting one, because the truth of the matter is he doesn’t say much,” Noah acknowledged. “Really what we’re doing is enjoying the spectacle of it all. Comedy Central ran original episodes of its popular late-night entry “@midnight” in the “Daily Show” slot for the past few weeks – a good way to draw an audience to see promos for Noah’s new launch. The comedian returned again and again to this theme, saying that his South African upbringing allows him to view American politics and media through fresh eyes. Are we doing this just for entertainment or are we really trying to get answers, are we really trying to go into a political space with these people?” Noah’s on-the-fly political humor chops got a little test this morning, when Saraiya broke the news mid Q&A that John Boehner was stepping down from his congressional seat, and asked Noah to share some of his failed Boehner jokes with the audience.

Christie got the draft both because he’s a Republican — Noah clearly wants to prove he’s no partisan — and because he’s “a fantastic guest to have on a show.” Although Noah doesn’t have any marks in his crosshairs just yet — “If you go ‘I have a target,’ then you have blinders on,” he said Friday — that doesn’t mean he plans to play nice: “It’s one of those interesting situations where I get to forge my own relationships. And Viacom has hired a team of digital executives to ensure the program can do more of what it does best – find the most interesting news of the day and interpret it for viewers – in new media as well as old. “We have to expand our view,” said Noah. “Sometimes, the story is made and breaks on Twitter, and we have to find a way to react to that. That’s the sad thing.” “I’m a big fan of thinking before I say or react to anything,” he added. “So that’s what we would be doing right now is talking about it and reminiscing on our favorite John Boehner moments, and [the writers] would be taking me back to some I didn’t know of. Well, no — at least not initially. “Jon and Stephen’s relationship came out of working together for eight years, and being around each other all the time,” Daily Show EP Jennifer Flanz told Mashable after the Q&A. “We’ll have to see where Trevor and Larry’s relationship evolves to. When journalist Judith Miller, often accused of helping the Bush administration push the United States into conflict in Iraq by publishing articles suggesting weapons of mass destruction were available to that country’s leaders, came on his show in 2015 to promote a memoir of her tenure at the New York Times, Stewart didn’t just ask questions.

He confronted her in no uncertain terms. “The pressure is amplified because of the legacy” of Stewart, Noah said Friday. “This is a giant undertaking and we are approaching it as such, but we are also excited about it.” Stewart isn’t the only late-night figure with whom Noah must contend. There is a new face behind the desk of nearly every major wee-hours program on American TV, from NBC’s “Tonight Show” to CBS’ “Late Show.” And cable networks are considering new launches with greater frequency. Other networks including National Geographic Channel are testing out bespoke programs like a show hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. “People say late night is crowded, and I always say to people, ‘You clearly haven’t seen the comedy scene,’ because that’s the world I live in.

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