NEW YORK – Within hours of the announcement that he had been named the new host of The Daily Show, South African comedian Trevor Noah was subjected to the full scrutiny of the Internet. As potential audience members scoured his past work and social media presence for more clues to Noah, they uncovered many posts on his Twitter account that they deemed offensive to women or Jews.
Comedy Central announced on Monday that Noah (31) would succeed Jon Stewart as anchor of The Daily Show, its satirical late-night news programme, when Stewart steps down this year. Though Noah has performed stand-up comedy around the world, he is not widely known in the United States, and he had appeared as an on-air contributor to The Daily Show only three times before being named as host.
On Twitter, where he has had an account since 2009 and accumulated more than two million followers, Noah often posts irreverent statements that reflect his interests in popular culture, global politics and issues of race. As with many comedians, Noah’s jokes can test the boundaries of what is socially permissible and what is in bad taste.
In several posts, Noah came across as mocking or derisive of women. In one from 2011, he writes: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” a quote that he attributes to “fat chicks everywhere”.
In a post from last year, he quotes another Twitter user who writes, “When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes 10 times the woman she was before,” to which Noah adds: “So she gets fat?”
Noah has also posted jokes about Jews and about Israel. As he wrote in 2009, “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would have felt so bad in my German car!”
Reacting to some of Noah’s jokes in a post for The Daily Caller, a news and opinion website based in Washington, Jamie Weinstein, a senior editor, wrote that this tweet “does seem to suggest that Noah believes Israel is an inherently belligerent country.”
Mr. Weinstein wrote that this was a potentially dangerous attitude for a new host of “The Daily Show,” adding: “Many young people don’t watch ‘The Daily Show’ just to laugh — they watch the show to get their news. The show shapes perceptions.”
Comedy Central offered its support to Noah in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” the network said in its statement. It continued: “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Late Tuesday afternoon Mr. Noah responded on Twitter: “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.” – New York Times.