Trevor Noah Calls POTUS an "Insult Comic," Talks Late-Night TV in the Trump Era

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Trevor Noah

"There are things to be angry about. There are reasons to mobilize. But some of this stuff Donald Trump does — hey, just laugh at that," said the 'Daily Show' host at the Just for Laughs festival.

Trevor Noah on Saturday told Americans to relax and laugh off many of President Donald Trump's almost daily snubs and slights, made in speeches or on Twitter, and focus on mobilizing over the "hurtful or divisive policies" he actually implements.

"He's an insult comic, move on," The Daily Show host told the audience at Just for Laughs in Montreal about the president, whom he regularly criticizes on his Comedy Central program. The way Trump grins, grimaces, reads from the teleprompter one moment, then breaks off to berate Hilary Clinton or another political enemy — it's no worse than a Dean Martin celebrity roast.

"There are things to be angry about. There are reasons to mobilize. But some of this stuff Donald Trump does — hey, just laugh at that," Noah cautioned. He pointed to a friend's outrage this past week when Trump, during a White House speech, denounced "17 years" of Obamacare, when the battle over the Affordable Care Act has gone on for seven years.

"Yeah, who cares? Laugh at the fact that the guy doesn't process time like we do," Noah said while giving an informal talk at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Noah added that Trump's critics have to pick their battles.

"If you are not careful, you assign the same level of outrage for everything, which then minimizes the really hurtful or divisive policies that the man may implement," he argued. The comedian, who was born in South Africa, even admitted he sometimes winces and laughs at Trump because, for all his bluster and theatrics, he remains a paradox.

"The idea of him being in control of this country is a frightening thing. I also know you cannot be afraid when you're laughing, but you also have to acknowledge there is a certain element of danger," Noah insisted. He added many Americans have never experienced such a chaotic political climate, but he has, as he likens Trump to the African dictators he knew growing up as a child.

Noah recalled the loneliness last year when he was among the few to predict Trump's election. "I remember telling people, 'I think this guy can win.' And people would say, 'That's why you shouldn't be hosting The Daily Show, because you don't know anything about American politics,'" he remembered.

As much as Trump mangles his syntax in speeches, Noah listens carefully not to what the U.S. president says, but what he means to say. "They didn't hear his message, which is a strange disconnect," he added about Trump's successful White House run.

Noah argued Trump's idiosyncratic grammar is recognizable to someone from South Africa where politicians mostly don't speak English as their first language. "I grew up learning I cannot focus on every word this person says, because that's not how they're trying to communicate. It's not always going to sound coherent, it's going to sound stupid, it's not going to be right — but that's not the message," he added.

The Comedy Central star said he heard Trump communicating well during last year's presidential debates, however much he jumbled his words and sentences. "I said, 'Geez, he's doing well ... his message was strung together,'" Noah recalled.

With Trump now in his presidency, Noah and his team at The Daily Show, while reacting every day to a fast-paced news cycle to come up with jokes, also try to put Trump in a timely context. "He overwhelms the news, so people can't cover Donald Trump because he does something else that covers up for what he did," Noah argued.

The late-night talk show host joked that, if only he'd employed the same blame-shifting tactics to limit or escape punishment in his youth, he'd have sailed through his upbringing. "I wish I thought about that as a kid, instead of apologizing for the wrong thing I did, just do so many wrong things and your parents say, 'I just can't keep up with you,' and you just go 'fake news' and move on," Noah said.

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