Trevor Noah Talks Donald Trump, Admiring Rand Paul and Picking First 'Daily Show' Guests

Trevor Noah 2 - H 2015
Courtesy of Comedy Central

"[Donald Trump] doesn’t say much, and really what we're doing is enjoying the spectacle of it all," explained Noah before his Monday debut. "At some point, our indulgence may come back to bite us."

Trevor Noah is feeling the pressure before his Daily Show debut on Monday.

"When it matters, there should always be pressure," he told approximately 60 journalists on Friday morning in the newly-outfitted studio, complete with a new logo — white letters in a red circle with two stars. "If we weren’t afraid, then I would think there’s something wrong with us. This is a giant undertaking, and we’re treating it as such."

Noah's first episode of the Comedy Central late-night show — taking over for Jon Stewart, who hosted for 16 years — will simulcast across all Viacom networks, Comedy Central president Michelle Ganeless announced at the press conference. "We want Trevor to be seen by as many people as possible," Ganeless told The Hollywood Reporter, "so to have the power of all the Viacom brands behind us, that will certainly increase our reach on Monday night."

So how did Noah select his first week's guests? Strategically and thoughtfully, it turns out.

"We were very careful that if someone were looking at the first week of guests and trying to determine what the future of The Daily Show, what would they think?" he explained. "Every single guest that's in there is there for a reason. Kevin Hart, comedian, first and foremost, a rock star comedian. And that’s what the show is, it is a comedy show first and foremost." He added that Hart, appearing Monday, is "a comedian who's broken many boundaries of color," as he transitioned in the public eye from "the biggest black comedian" to "just Kevin Hart, which is a fantastic thing."

Wednesday will represent the political side of the political-comedy show, as Chris Christie is "a fantastic guest to have on a show and he's running for president. … This show is still going to be political, it's still going to be American politics." But further, "he's a Republican. We wanted to go with someone where we’re not saying friend or enemies, but let’s have a Republican on and let's have an honest conversation about this. Not starting fights or anything, but let's see where this interview goes." Noah also gave him kudos for agreeing to appear on a show before having observed its new approach.

Tuesday guest, Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe, is similar to Noah in that she was "a new voice in a space,” and he loved her story of being woman in the predominantly-male tech world. "That's a big thing that I want to encourage on the show: getting those voices out there and having that conversation."

Similarly, Thursday guest Ryan Adams is not the most well-known pick for a musical guest, but "he took Taylor Swift and ... remade that to much acclaim and has done exceptionally well, and I really appreciate that. … He’s done in essence what we’ve done here — he's taken something that was loved by many, cherished by many, and has created a new version of it for himself. And people have gone, 'Wow, this is amazing. We can still like Taylor Swift but we can also like Ryan Adams' 1989.' " It's also a way to introduce that the series is "definitely going to be doing more music. It’s a great way to end the week."

Of the other political candidates he'd love to interview in the future, Noah is "open to have everybody on the show, if they're part of the race," and singled out Ben Carson ("I think that would be a very energetic interview") and Rand Paul, whom he admires after his comments during the Republican debates, particularly on social security reform.

"He was saying things that were sane at the debates!" laughed Noah. "He did seem thoughtful. … It’s like New York: it’s hard to remember all the normal people on the street because of the guy who’s screaming at you on the corner."

Of potentially welcoming Donald Trump, Noah noted, "The truth of the matter is he doesn’t say much and really what we're doing is enjoying the spectacle of it all. That's really what we're doing: we’re indulging in it. At some point, our indulgence may come back to bite us. But we'll see. Obviously, Donald Trump is welcome on the show, and I'd love to have him on, but the question I would ask myself and the team is, what do we aim to achieve from this? What are we trying to do: is it just for entertainment [or] are we really trying to get answers?"

During the press conference, news of John Boehner's resignation from Congress alerted the studio of journalists. "That’s sad. I liked him. He always cried. He’s really cool," said Noah in shock, admitting that they'll now have to shift a few things around for next week's episodes — "They were great jokes, that’s the sad thing!" — he declined to further comment, only noting, "I’m a big fan of thinking before I say or react to anything."

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah debuts Monday at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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