Comedy Central Bosses Double Down on Commitment to Trevor Noah

Upfronts 2016: Michele Ganeless and Kent Alterman share “open door policy” for Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart with TheWrap

Trevor Noah Daily Show Newt Gingrich
Comedy Central

Comedy Central is committed to Trevor Noah, whether the South African comic is your cup of tea or not. And if he’s not, channel President Michele Ganeless and Original Programming chief Kent Alterman think you need to get your eyes and ears checked — or at least check back in with the evolving new(ish) “Daily Show.”

“We fully believe in him, we feel like he keeps finding his voice more and more,” Alterman told TheWrap in an interview ahead of Comedy Central’s Thursday TV upfronts presentation. “He’s … connecting with our audience.”

Ganeless added that the duo has an “incredible amount of confidence in his talent.” Couple that with what she calls “a deep reservoir of patience,” and Noah’s not going anywhere, folks.

Plus, Jon Stewart‘s torch bearer is particularly strong among male millennials — an all-important demographic for Comedy Central (and all of TV) — and he expands the show’s reach internationally, across viewing platforms and throughout social media. Ganeless also happens to like what Noah isn’t.

“He doesn’t necessarily bring the anger and the weariness of some other late-night personalities right now when talking about politics,” Ganeless explained. “He brings this really curious millennial perspective that wants to understand it.”

So, maybe give him another shot if you haven’t been watching — that’s all they ask.

Speaking of Stewart, Ganeless still stays in touch regularly, and she’d be happy to collaborate in the future — even beyond his annual charity event “Night of Too Many Stars.”

“We talk to Jon often … he’s enjoying his life on the farm right now, as I understand it,” she said. “Of course, we’d always be open to any idea Jon would have.”

That attitude isn’t limited to the former face of the Viacom network — it includes at least one of Stewart’s proteges. On a potential future reunion with Stephen Colbert, whom some critics believe is struggling to find his voice over on CBS, Ganeless commented: “Do we have an open-door policy? Sure.”

Continuing up the branches of that impressive “Daily Show” family tree, we asked the execs if they regretted letting John Oliver go. He’s now hosting “Last Week Tonight” over on HBO, and critics seem to dig what he’s doing more than either Colbert or Noah.

After Ganeless joked “regret, reschmet,” Alterman offered up the more serious answer — a role reversal of sorts for the two.

“At the time he left, Jon and Stephen were both still here,” he pointed out. “We didn’t really have the real estate for him.”

In a way, Comedy Central is hemorrhaging talent. Beyond Stewart, Colbert and Oliver, the cable channel has recently lost Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, and is currently saying goodbye to “Key & Peele.” There are, of course, other examples — but we don’t need to completely dump salt in their wound.

Fortunately, it still has “Inside Amy Schumer” — which will essentially continue until the titular star doesn’t feel like doing the sketch series anymore, the brass told us — and Comedy Central is constantly developing new talent through a mostly unchanged and proven pipeline and procedure.

Nikki Glaser, who just got an expanded Season 1 of “Not Safe” and renewed Snapchat Discover series “Quickie with Nikki,” seems to be getting the Schumer-esque push these days. That makes sense, since she’s best friends with Amy, and has appeared several times on her show.

“We really believe in [Glaser],” Alterman said of his latest star. “We feel like she has a really fresh, original, smart, relevant voice.”

Glaser’s development is exactly the network’s bread and butter: carrying stand-ups from specials to series. That’s why Comedy Central is top dog, in the minds of Ganeless and Alterman.

“If you looked at the consumption numbers, if you looked at actual research … you would realize that we are sort of in our own category as far as all the ways that comedy, talent and content all is being consumed,” Alterman said. “We are unequivocally the No. 1 brand.”

Read about that brand’s recently renewed TV slate here, and get the latest details on the content from its ongoing ambitious Snapchat Discover investment here.