By Angela Hart
When Trevor Noah first took over The Daily Show, there were many skeptics and critics. The first few weeks of the program, Noah was understandably nervous and lacked Stewart’s confidence. After Noah was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, the show was postponed one episode. Upon his return, Noah appears to have gained a newfound purpose on the show. Maybe all of the well-wishes from fans and viewers inspired Noah to feel as though The Daily Show was his new on-air home or developed a gratitude and bond with the staff more so than before; but, whatever the reason, Noah’s performance has become more reminiscent of his satirical predecessors.
Noah has gained confidence interviewing the guests on The Daily Show. He interacts more so now than he used to when he first became The Daily Show’s anchor. On Monday, November 16, 2015, Noah spoke with David Holbrooke about his film “The Diplomat.”
Noah: Your father was almost like a political Forrest Gump.
Noah: He was everywhere that something happened.
Holbrooke: Simple? Simple and kind of dumb?
Noah: No, don’t you dare say that.
Holbrooke: That’s what you said, Forrest Gump, not me.
Noah: No, that’s what you see when you see Forrest Gump? That is not what I see.
This conversation occurred when Holbrooke first sat across from Noah, setting an enjoyable precedent for the viewers. The rest of the interview had that similar fun nature and banter. Noah has become more comfortable interjecting in the conversation between guests. Rather than let them speak about a particular thought for too long, he will break it up and integrate a humorous element. His ability to think on his feet has become more apparent and adds a comedic air that long-time viewers of The Daily Show expect.
The Punch in Punchline
Noah’s commentary and delivery of punchlines have improved dramatically since he slid into the anchor seat. From the integration of shorter jokes such as “American’s won’t even gram unless it’s insta” to longer monologues, Noah’s comedic timing has become better and better the longer he is on air.
One example of Noah’s superb balancing act of information and entertainment came in regards to the Paris attacks follow up. He was able to speak confidently about an issue, then shift to a laughable moment.
“There is that impulse that we just want to get revenge. Aw, I get it! I get it! That’s anger and that’s one of the stages of grief that most people go through if they’re normal but, as we’ve seen in the last few days, not everyone is normal and most of them are running for office. You see, for some politicians, they’re not limited to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, um, anger, and the Department of Commerce. For example, politician grieving stage one: use the tragedy as an excuse to say what you would’ve said anyway.”
Noah’s transitions from segment to segment have become cleaner not being as disjointed as they once were. His delivery of the punchlines has become much more seamless and integrated within the program such as Jon Stewart’s. Rather than a comedian waiting for the audience to laugh, as Noah appeared to have been doing in the first few episodes, he now acts more reminiscent of a news anchor who must continue to speak rather than pause for audience feedback. Now, Noah speaks to the viewers at home, watching him via online devices or television, versus the people in the studio audience who may or may not be giving him facial or social cues in certain ways, prompting him to pause or laugh himself.
Furthermore, the introduction to the segment on presidential candidates and their reactions to the Paris attack was well done. Noah was able to introduce a topic and integrate a joke in a manner similar to Stewart. By referencing Ted Cruz’s incident during one of the Democratic debates, forgetting the five government branches that he would eliminate, Noah was able to make reference and reiterate an issue with Cruz and transition to the presidential candidates; the line itself was well-executed and pertained to the content that was following. Noah no longer smirks or laughs in-between segments making the new segment feel abrupt.
Making the Show His Own
Noah has been able to add comedic elements to certain segments. As a viewer, I noticed him taking advantage of his ability to speak with accents and mimic people’s voices. While Stewart would change his pitch or sing a line, Noah’s integration of impersonations allows him to add a new comedic element.
The Daily Show appears to have made a wise decision casting Noah as their anchor. The team of correspondents, both new and old, continues to add humorous voices to the program, keeping Stewart’s legacy alive. It will be interesting to see how Noah, a native South African, continues to cover the 2016 presidential election.