On Sept. 30, 2022, Trevor Noah announced to his live studio audience that he was leaving The Daily Show. Upon hearing the news, gasps could be heard from his audience. Noah, since entering the spotlight in 2015, is now a cultural icon. He has used his platform thoughtfully and responsibly. After many years of success and growing opportunities, Noah has decided to step away from the role.
After seven years, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, feels like a staple in television. It has become a tool that has provided clarity in the darkest of situations. Noah was able to shine a comedic light on issues that were hard to process as American citizens. He and his co-correspondents have led us through elections, presidencies, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. Although he is not completely gone, the energy of the Daily Show will be forever changed without him.
The Daily Show is a legacy show. It has been passed down from host to host. The Daily Show started with Craig Kilorn. He hosted the show from 1996 to 1998, and was then succeeded by Jon Stewart from 1999 to 2015. When Stewart announced his departure, fans were excited to learn that the show was not exactly ending, but would receive a new host. Many speculated who this new host could be. Now that Noah’s time is ending, it is time to speculate who will replace him, which will definitely be big shoes to fill.
Noah stood out in comparison to other Late Night hosts. His background as a comedian from South Africa who wanted to explore and understand the world provided a new perspective in TV. The Daily Show was the best avenue for Noah to share his comedic talent while providing political and social commentary every weekday. His presence broke a barrier in late night television. While there was Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Connan O’Brian, there was no one who could bring the same perspective and attentiveness as Noah. His presence called for more diversity in Late Night. The Daily Show created an environment that invited young people, and more people of color into the audience. He was a rare spectacle in TV, and he flourished in the spaces he occupied. His thoughtful candor and commentary will be missed.
Politics can seem overwhelming and complex, but Noah was able to take big ideas and talk about them in a way that any person could understand. He took news that was hard to hear and made it digestible.
When he invited guests onto his show Noah’s questions were well thought out, which allowed his guests to give emotional, in–depth responses. While many late night hosts ask questions that feel aimed and planned, Noah’s interactions with his guests felt authentic. Even when he was interviewing people he did not particularly agree with, he always tried to truly understand their point of view.
While hosts like Kimmel and Fallon do not typically invite formidable guests onto their shows, Noah encourages the challenge. He stands out because his questions didn’t provoke comedic answers. His questions felt intentionally picked to get to the root of his guest’s character and personality. He invited debate and discussion on a number of difficult topics. While many hosts have a tendency of cutting off their guests, Noah was able to listen and build a conversation. If his question was unanswered, he would frame it differently.
A good example of this was his interview with Republican influencer Tomi Lahren. She was famous for being critical of the Black Lives Matter movement and of Colin Kappernik kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. In their discussion, he proactively builds questions from her responses, trying to receive a deeper understanding. In a video recording of the interview, Noah asks Lahren about her perspective.
“What do you wish people would understand about you that are in another bubble?” Noah asked.
“I wish we could disagree with each other without thinking that we are bad people or ill-intentioned folks,” Lahren said.
As the discussion continues, there is pushback on both sides and Noah maintains composure, leading the conversation forward. Despite the debate focusing on controversial topics, he kept the interaction civil and respectful. He set the standard that it is important to have these conversations with people you do not agree with. It is important to see and understand people’s difference in perspective.
Noah also used his show to talk to guests who could provide general information to the public. He has interviewed medical professionals such as Dr. Fauci, activists like Greta Thunberg, actors and actresses like Lupita Nyong’o and icons such as Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. The impressive list spans seven years.
There is now a dark trend taking over late night TV. There’s a pattern of hosts leaving their shows and shows getting canceled. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee was canceled this year after seven seasons. According to Time Magazine, Bee was the first woman to host a satiric late night show. James Corden also announced this year that he is leaving the Late Late Show to spend more time with his family and focus on passion projects.
My hope is that as late night shows are looking to replace hosts, they have learned that giving unique voices a platform can make way for new audiences. Giving the right person a platform can create ripples of change that affect the way viewers think, the way they live their lives and the choices they make. In Noah’s farewell announcement, he relayed his feelings of gratitude for the opportunity to talk to his audience everyday. He hopes to explore more of the world while continuing to perform comedy shows.
“I loved trying to figure out how to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly s—— on the worst days. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together. After seven years it’s time… I realized there’s another part of my life that I want to carry on exploring,” Noah said.
Everything ends in time, and it is exciting to ponder the many things Noah will do in the future now that his weekdays are vacant. Because of his popularity on the Daily Show, he hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner in April of 2022 and The Grammys in 2021. The show has been nominated for 14 Emmys during his tenure. Noah’s last show will premiere on Comedy Central on Dec. 8, 2022, which will mark the end of an era.