Trevor Noah Loses His Cool As He Prepares to Take Over 'The Daily Show': "My Mind Is Like the Syrian Crisis"

Peter Yang/Comedy Central
Trevor Noah

In two new interviews, Noah reveals his feelings about next week's relaunch, diversity in late night and being a low draft pick for the Comedy Central show.

Trevor Noah officially takes his seat behind The Daily Show desk on Sept. 28, and in advance of his debut, he's been busy doing interviews to prepare the world for his arrival.

Five days before the post-Jon Stewart Daily Show begins its run, Noah talked to Today and The New York Times  about his anxiety about taking over for Stewart, the lack of diversity in late night and his feelings about perhaps being "a consolation prize" after the show failed to attract higher profile stars to the anchor seat.

Despite Noah's ever-cool appearance, he told Savannah Guthrie on Today that as he approaches the first night of the show, his mind looks like "the Syrian crisis — parts of my mind are fleeing," said Noah. "Other parts are panicking, but you know what? I think it's all gonna work out in the end."

Co-host Carson Daly pointed out that coming into an election year, he won't be at a loss for material. "Yeah," Noah said. "Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina – these are all gifts. I couldn't ask for more. Every time Donald Trump has spoken, I go 'why are we not on the air?!'"

As for the diversity issue in late night — an issue that was reignited when Vanity Fair published an overwhelmingly white and male image of the faces of late night programming with the headline, "Why Late Night is Better Than Ever" — Noah doubled down on comments he made last week in Newsweek that caught him some heat for what many perceived as a lack of urgent concern. "What's great is we do have Samantha Bee, we do have Chelsea Handler coming in, Noah told Today. "I think the landscape is going to continue to evolve day to day, I mean if you look at that picture even three years ago, it wouldn't have included any people of color."

Noah also addressed the issue of tweets he wrote a few years ago that many felt were derogatory towards women and Jews, and that set off an initial firestorm about his fitness to assume Stewart's hallowed role. "[That kind of criticism] is one of the most difficult things to go through," Noah said. "But it's one of the best things that can happen to you because you then realize what world you're coming in to. You realize how people take things … "

Noah elaborated on the Twitter controversy in The New York Times, saying jokes that were construed as offensive were often as much directed at himself as any outside group: "I wrote a joke about being fat. And then they were like, 'He’s fat-shaming.' That tweet was about me. I’ve been fat before. I’ve suffered through depression and used food to comfort myself. I grew up in an abusive household where chocolate was my only solace."

Noah continued to reflect on his underdog-turned-international celebrity status in his answer to a question about being a low draft pick for Daily Show anchor — producers having first offered the seat to comedy superstars like Chris Rock, Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer. "It makes me feel great. My philosophy in life has always been to be like water," said Noah. "Try to find why what’s happening is helping you. It may not always be apparent. It may not always be easy to accept. I remember reading that Will Smith was supposed to get The Matrix. But then I was like, I don’t think I could picture anyone doing The Matrix better than Keanu Reeves. Had I been given the choice at the time — if they said, 'You vote, Keanu Reeves or Will Smith?'  — I would have gone: 'That is a stupid and obvious answer. I’m going to go with Will Smith.' And yet now I go, 'No, he wouldn’t have worked.' "

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