Trevor Noah was already facing the challenge of producing his nightly Comedy Central talk show in a quarantine when he and his team decided to extend the format. The South African comedian started hosting a 45-minute edition in late April as COVID-19 raged on. He said during Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event that he wanted to include more global news on the show, but not at the expense of domestic news.
“My dream was to incorporate more international news, not to inundate the audience but to give a perspective,” he said. “This virus amplified that. I think because I’ve come from a small country, relative to other nations in the world, I’ve always appreciated how important it is to keep tabs on other places because that thing can come and affect you and you need more time to do that.”
Noah admits this was a challenge, given he and his whole team were in lockdown.
“It feels like I launched a new show with no pre-production, no planning and no scheduling, so if anything, it feels like I’m piloting a new show while I’m on the air, which is not an ideal way to make a new show,” he said. “I’m not used to it, but I’m enjoying the thrill of something new again. I’m enjoying new avenues to explore. I’m lucky enough to be working, so I don’t take any of that for granted. We’ve turned into elevated YouTubers, which is fun; we’re not taking ourselves too seriously even though we’re living in a very serious world.”
During the production shutdown, Noah has had interviews with the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said that he’d also like to have more Republicans on his show, highlighting that before 2016, he interviewed more Republicans than Democrats on the series.
“Once Trump won, many of them were afraid to come on the show, but luckily we have some that still come on the show,” he said. “I still hope to get more Republican leaders on the show — genuine conservatives, not trolls. I’m not trying to give a platform to Nazis.”
He added that one of the biggest challenges of being outside the studio has been telling jokes to an empty room. “I finally understand why my grandma didn’t like cooking when none of her grandkids were around, because if you don’t have anyone to appreciate the product of what you’re making, it’s not the same anymore.”
Check out the panel video above.