Jon Stewart is gone but not forgotten, least of all by the Daily Show‘s new host. But Trevor Noah knows he’s going to make a great show, and now we do too.
Last night The Daily Show with Trevor Noah premiered on Comedy Central. Its previous incarnation, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (in case you live under a rock) had become iconic and infamous for its biting political satire. Jon Stewart was not afraid to call people out, especially when it came to politics. He created a legacy, and last night a young, relatively unknown comedian was handed that legacy. There are always concerns with a transition like this one, but I’m happy to report that The Daily Show is going to be okay.
Here are some top moments from last night that prove it.
Trevor Noah jumped right in last night by getting real. He acknowledged that it’s surreal that he’s helming The Daily Show. He was self-effacing and he addressed the elephants in the room. He gets it. He knows it’s strange. It’s a transition. Jon Stewart made The Daily Show what it is, and he’d been doing it for over 15 years. Noah gave tribute to Stewart, assigning him as “our voice, our refuge, and in many ways our political dad.” And now dad’s left. He’s left this legacy that must be carried on, but Noah will also have to make it his own to an extent. Tonight was a good step in that direction.
Noah also talked about the reasons the new host isn’t a woman. Or an American. Whether this was more for the joke than an actual truth, the fact that he talked about it at all was smart. He claims women and Americans were offered the job, but no one wanted it. It’s believable, really. It’s a full-time commitment that could last for over a decade. The job is perfect for Noah, who has a good following but hasn’t built up a huge career in movies. This is not a shackle for him, but rather a podium for his comedy.
Ultimately, the monologue was the best indication that The Daily Show will be okay. Noah held his own and he wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself.
Popechella. Pope by Southwest. The World Series of Poper.
After a spectacular (if momentary) Syrian fake-out, Noah moved on to the obvious, if lighter, choice as the topic of the night. And nailed it. Choosing to talk about the Pope’s visit could have been a dud. Personally, I’m sick of hearing about the Pope. Is nothing else going on in the world? Does the Pope have the ability to stop crime? If so, why doesn’t he use it more often? But I digress….
Even though the Pope is a lighter subject, Noah was able to integrate some more hard news stories into the segment, like John Boehner’s resignation.
With this segment also came even more of what will help Noah during his tenure. He really embraces his youth and energy. The inclusion of emojis, sexting, and #PrayForFetty might have been something Jon Stewart would have said, but there’s a different context when Noah uses these millennial terms.
And, of course, one of the best moments of the night comes when Noah mentions the Mets getting into the playoffs. He admits “I don’t know what that means, but Jon told me that would work.” This is a nice reminder that Jon is gone from in front of the camera but not completely gone from the show. This is not a cold hand-off, but rather a soft transition that ought to be great for the show.
Right before the commercial break, Noah had his first correspondent segment. Jordan Klepper’s was the best of the two correspondent segments on the show last night, and featured some great back-and-forth double entendres comparing the search for John Boehner’s replacement to Noah’s own monumental task replacing Jon Stewart. Even more than the monologue, this was probably the best icebreaker moment of the night. Everyone was laughing along with Noah at the fact that he could very well fail. But at the same time this segment showed that he almost certainly won’t.
The second half of the show
I’m not gonna lie: the first half of the show was the strongest (although it’s worth remembering this was often the case with Stewart’s Daily Show as well). The second correspondent segment with Roy Wood, Jr. was fine, and gave a new perspective to the Mars discovery, but ultimately didn’t pack as much of a punch as Klepper’s segment. I am glad, thought, they pointed out that it’s the height of hubris for us to assume we can just take over another planet. It was an interesting spin, inspired confidence that the show will continue to be as much social commentary as pure comedy, and it landed well.
Kevin Hart ended up being a fine guest, and Noah did well interviewing him. It was a softball, but in a show full of home runs, but it ended up being simply a nice way to close out the episode. If anything is a skill to be learned for Noah, it’s likely interviewing chops. Jon Stewart developed them over literally hundreds of interviews. Five minute comedy interviews are tough. But Noah proved that he’s game for the journey, and he’s got a great foundation to build from.
All in all, Trevor Noah knows he has a hard road ahead of him. But he’s not feeling sorry for himself or apologizing for taking a great opportunity. He’s doing what he’s good at, and doing it the best way he can. At the end of the day, he’s not trying to be Jon Stewart, he’s just trying to make Jon Stewart proud. What more can we ask for?
Day 1 of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah showed plenty of promise. It proved that The Daily Show is here to stay even without Jon Stewart, and it can keep going strong as ever.