‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’ Is Exactly What You Thought: The Same Show with a New Face
After the first episode of a new show, especially the first episode of an old show with a new face, everyone is ready to deem it either fantastic or awful. Did Trevor Noah ruin Jon Stewart’s legacy? Is The Daily Show a completely different beast? Should we stop watching now that some random unknown guy is hosting? The answer to all of those is no, or at least, we have no idea yet. But after watching the young South African comedian’s debut in Stewart’s chair on Monday night, it’s refreshing to say he did a pretty good job, and only time will tell how well he can carry the show.
We realize that “pretty good job” is more of an insult than it is a praise – no one wants to do a “pretty good job.” But in the age of the Internet, a mediocre, rather unmemorable late night show debut is easier to recover and, hopefully, shine from. The 31-year-old former correspondent started the show off strong, thanking his predecessor, “our political dad,” and admitting that taking over the show is just as surreal for him as it is for us. “And it’s weird,” Noah said in his opening monologue, “because dad has left and now it feels like the family has a new stepdad… and he’s black.”
Noah also joked about the controversy surrounding Comedy Central’s decision to hire him over a long-desired female host, and even over an American host. “So once more, a job Americans rejected is now being done by an immigrant,” he said to many laughs. Channeling some of Stewart’s beloved self-deprecating humor was a smart choice to open his new Daily Show, help acclimate the audience to the changes and set Noah on a solid course, despite a few jokes turned sour.
The new host began with the Pope’s United States visit, taking full advantage of the opportunity to inject new words into our cultural consciousness like “Pope-chella” and “Popemojis,” the latter of which Noah joked will be the perfect addition to your late night sexting. He even found room for a good ol’ Pope dick joke, because why not? Noah also covered John Boehner’s resignation from Congress, which led to an off-kilter drug joke about crack cocaine telling crystal meth “I took down Whitney Houston!” The other bad joke that took a dive was a play on the words “aides” and “AIDS.” Not the best choice, but at least The Daily Show writers are willing to take some risks, even if they fail.
The biggest shocker of the premiere was the new Daily Show font, which even freaked out correspondent Jordan Klepper. “Everything is just so f–king new!” Klepper said, on the verge of a breakdown. “The desk is different, there’s a new font. Nobody asked me!”
Comedy Central continued to play it safe for Noah’s first night by booking a rather forgettable first guest, Kevin Hart. The actor and comedian brought Noah a gift of a box of ties, to which the host reacted with little to no enthusiasm. It was a flat interview, but we hope that the host develops his own signature interview style in time.
Yet regardless of his wobbly first night, Noah is undeniably a charming host with much potential. He might be our new black stepdad, but he could easily wiggle his way into becoming the fun stepdad who’s cool enough to know what #PrayForFetty is. As Todd VanDerWerff wrote for Vox before the new Daily Show’s debut, Noah might be the ideal choice for the new era of the influential late night show primarily for his young age and outsider quality.
Judging from Monday night’s debut, everything pretty much looks similar (despite the trauma of adjusting to a new font), the format is the same (Moment of Zen made the cut) and the satire is still in place. Noah could’ve had a better debut, but he also could’ve had a much worse one. We can compare the new guy to Stewart all we want, but this is essentially Noah’s show now. We’ll have to keep watching to see if his wit and humor can prove more memorable than the charm of his dimples.