UPDATE, 7:43 AM: Comedy Central made it official this morning: Trevor Noah, who has appeared on The Daily Show just three times, is taking over as host when Jon Stewart steps down. Word that Noah was the network’s choice got out Friday. Here is today’s Comedy Central announcement:
Trevor Noah has been selected to become the next host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show.
Noah joined The Daily Show in 2014 as a contributor. He made his U.S. television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late-night show. Noah has hosted numerous television shows including his own late-night talk show in his native country, Tonight with Trevor Noah.
He was featured on the October 2014 cover of GQ South Africa and has been profiled in Rolling Stone, Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal, and by CNN and NPR’s Talk of the Nation, among others. He continues to tour all over the world and has performed in front of sold out crowds at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Noah only debuted on The Daily Show as senior international correspondent on December 4. And in this morning’s coverage of the news, NBC’s Today show report was typically illustrative of how well-known Noah isn’t in this country:
“We now know who will replace Jon Stewart. His name: Trevor Noah,” Savannah Guthrie revealed.
“Huh?” responded Al Roker.
“I think it’s fair to say he’s not well known in this country. He’s a South African comedian,” she continued.
“Do not feel bad if you have to Google him,” assured Tamron Hall.
“Trevor Noah is the name – look him up,” advised Willie Geist.
Noah made the shortlist of contenders in early February, as more likely candidates — or at least those topping the media’s list of likely candidates — shrank with news they’d been snagged by Comedy Central competitors. The list included former Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, who already had committed to taking over David Letterman’s CBS late-night show (CBS started running Colbert promos Friday in its basketball coverage); former Comedy Central star John Oliver, who decided instead to sign a contract extension to continue hosting Last Week Tonight at HBO; former Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, who said so long to the show last week as he heads to TBS to star and produce a comedy series and also exec produce a planned topical talker that would star his wife, fellow Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee – also on the list of People Not Hosting The Daily Show – that’s expected to be a late-night vehicle; and current Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, who declared herself “underqualified” for the gig in February in response to a petition calling for Comedy Central to give her the host’s chair.
Noah commented on today’s news via Twitter:
One industry source told Deadline that Comedy Central wanted a host who was not another white male. The genre has taken a lot of criticism among all networks for the homogeneity in its ranks. Noah is from South Africa; his mother is South African and his father is Swiss.
In an interview with the New York Times, which was given the jump on this morning’s announcement, Michele Ganeless, the Comedy Central president, was not quoted addressing that directly, but said the network’s goal had been to “find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different,” explaining, “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job. You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart — there is no next Jon Stewart.”
But the network referenced the debate, elliptically, in a tweet this morning:
“We’re always excited to find new, talented voices that can contribute to our program,” Stewart said when he unveiled Noah to The Daily Show back in December:
Noah is repped by CAA, LEG and Morris Yorn.
PREVIOUS, 6 AM: Comedy Central made it official this morning, leaking to the New York Times its planned Monday announcement that the young South African comic will take over the hosting slot on The Daily Show when Jon Stewart departs. That date remains unknown. Deadline revealed on Friday that Noah was being fast-tracked for the job.
“You don’t believe it for the first few hours,” Noah told the Times by phone from Dubai, where he is on a leg of a comedy tour. “You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.”
Jon Stewart, in an uncharacteristically exclamation-point-laden profusion of boosterism, told the Times, “I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor. He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.” Mr. Stewart added that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”
The comedian, 31, has only appeared on the flagship Comedy Central program three times. Michele Ganeless, the Comedy Central president, told the Times: “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job. You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.”
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