Trevor Noah has spoken out for the first time about taking over Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” from exiting host Jon Stewart.
In a new episode of Crackle’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Noah told host Jerry Seinfeld how he found out he got the coveted job, and he explained how he discovered the power of comedy — when his grandfather told a joke to a police officer, allowing the young Noah to witness a white man and black man laughing together for the first time in his native South Africa.
But the delicate political climate during his formative years meant it took a while before he could pursue his true calling.
“After 1994, it became no longer illegal to be black, so you could do things,” Noah said. “Start by sitting on the bench, start by riding the bus, start by walking through the city at whatever time, and then slowly you go, ‘What else can we do?’ You can sing, you can do shows, you can act. ‘Can we tell jokes?’ Yeah you can tell jokes.”
After arriving in New York, Noah attributed his “incredible work ethic,” in Seinfeld’s words, to being cash-strapped, and described doing six or seven gigs a week in New York, flying to London to do three stand-up shows before repeating the cycle all over again.
Of course, those days are behind him, and Noah said he was in the Middle East when he got the call that could potentially change his life.
“I’m in Dubai. I’m literally driving in the middle of the night and my phone rings and my manager says, “How would you like to be the host of ‘The Daily Show’?” Noah recalled. “I get out the car, and I didn’t have legs. The worst thing is, you’re in Dubai, which is one of the hardest places to find a drink and then you go, ‘Let’s find a drink!'”
Noah will take over as “Daily Show” host on Sep. 28.