Trevor Noah got a taste of the comic readiness required by his new job as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show when a reporter at a press breakfast this morning informed him — and her surprised fellow reporters — that John Boehner had announced his resignation from Congress. “I’m sad,” Noah said. “I liked him — he always cried.”
Perhaps not a great joke — even the low-key Noah conceded he prefers to “think” before he reacts — but Noah’s soft-spoken earnestness might have been a sneak preview of his Daily Show reign.
After Comedy Central announced that the debut of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Monday will be simulcast across the Viacom family of channels — including VH1, CMT, BET and TV Land — Noah took to the new, higher-tech Daily Show set to take questions from an audience of reporters.
Will he target Fox News like his predecessor Jon Stewart? “I don’t have targets yet,” he said. “I get to forge my own relationships. I get to discover the people I know and loathe.”
Following up on his press appearance at TCA in July, Noah revisited the “Is he Left or Right?” issue, and seems intent on taking a stand…in the middle. “I want to point out both sides,” he said, “just trying to find the truth of the matter.” Pressed on his previous self-description that he’s a “political progressive,” Noah amended the statement, saying he’s simply progressive, which by his reckoning means, “I try to improve myself and by and large to improve the world I’m in,” and that “progression can come from both sides.” He said that while he favors marriage equality, for example, he found himself agreeing with some of what Rand Paul said during the recent Republican debate, particularly about Social Security reform. Asked to be more specific, Noah said only, “He was saying things at the debate that were sane.”
“The romance,” he said of his Rand Paul feelings, “is real, and I will embrace it as such.” That sounds like a joke, but Noah’s easygoing delivery can make it hard to tell.
The South African Noah also seems to be walking back the “global” perspective ballyhooed by Comedy Central after his hiring. Asked if the Daily Show would move away from a U.S.-centric approach, Noah responded, “My first instinct would be to say yes, and no.” He called himself a “citizen of the world” who could bring an outsider’s perspective to the show, but added, firmly, “But I’m living in America.” He said the program would address things important to Americans, like the recent Republican debates.
Jordan Klepper, Daily Show correspondent, reiterated the point to Deadline after the Q&A. “We did a great test show on the whole Kim Davis thing,” he said, “which is what everybody has been talking about.” Asked how Noah differs from Steward, Klepper quipped that Noah has better dimples, suits and tells fewer New Jersey jokes, but got serious about the program’s approach. “People have actually asked me if we’re still going to cover the news,” Klepper said. “Well of course, it’s The Daily Show.”