BY MEREDITH BLAKE AND JULIE WESTFALL
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian who has been a contributor to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” will be the program’s new host when current host Jon Stewart leaves later this year, the network announced Monday.
“Trevor Noah is an enormous talent. He has an insightful and unique point of view, and most importantly, is wickedly funny,” said Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless in a statement, noting that he would bring “a fresh voice” to the satirical news show.
Noah, a biracial South African who grew up in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, was a surprise pick.
Though he has hosted his own program, “Tonight with Trevor Noah,” in his native country, the comedian joined “The Daily Show” as a contributor only in December and his name had not been among those floated in the press as a possible successor to Stewart until recently. One of the show’s behind-the-scene podcasts features an interview with Noah.
More late-night diversity
“It’s an honor to follow Jon Stewart. He and the team at ‘The Daily Show’ have created an incredible show whose impact is felt all over the world,” said Noah in a statement from Comedy Central. “In my brief time with the show they’ve made me feel so welcome. I’m excited to get started and work with such a fantastic group of people.”
Noah will also bring further diversity to late-night TV — and to Comedy Central. “The Nightly Show,” hosted by African-American comedian Larry Wilmore, premiered in January in the 11:30 slot vacated by “The Colbert Report.”
In a tweet Monday, comedian Chris Rock — who some had hoped might step in as Stewart’s replacement — thanked President Obama for Noah’s hiring, presumably because both men are biracial and share powerful personal biographies.
White dad, Black mom
As reported by the New York Times, which first broke the news of Stewart’s replacement on Monday,
Noah was born to a White Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother, a relationship that was illegal under apartheid.
Noah is the subject of a documentary, “You Laugh But It’s True,” currently available on Netflix, and rose to international attention in 2012 following a sold-out show, “The Racist,” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a famed launching pad for comedy talent.
Noah also joins a growing list of internationally born late-night hosts that includes “The Daily Show” alum John Oliver, who now hosts “Last Week Tonight” for HBO, and James Corden, who made his debut as host of “The Late Late Show” on CBS last week. Both are British.
Stewart, 52, announced in February that he would be leaving the show after 16 years at its host. The show premiered in 1996 under then-host Craig Kilborn.