5 Trevor Noah Stand-Up Bits to Tide You Over Until His 'Daily Show' Debut
Ahead of his Sept. 28 Comedy Central premiere, watch the South African comedian riff on colonization and cultural and language barriers and demonstrate his impression of a drunk Nelson Mandela.
Now that Jon Stewart has signed off from The Daily Show, the future of the Comedy Central late-night program belongs to Trevor Noah.
What can viewers expect from the South African comedian's Daily Show, which debuts on Sept. 28, more than seven weeks from now? Noah talked about what his version of the program will look like in his recent appearance at the TCA summer press tour. He's also participated in a few Daily Show segments.
There are also plenty of videos of Noah's stand-up act circulating online, offering more clues about his comedic approach and showcasing his ability to speak various languages and do accents and impressions. To tide Daily Show viewers over until Noah's debut, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled five funny clips from Noah's stand-up act, in which he riffs on cultural and language barriers, jokes about colonization and demonstrates his impression of a drunk Nelson Mandela.
His May 2013 appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman: Long before Noah joined The Daily Show, or Letterman left The Late Show, Noah appeared on the CBS late-night program. At the time, Noah also had an off-Broadway show titled Born a Crime. His six minutes on Letterman are sort of a watered-down version of his stand-up act, as is true of any late-night TV performance from a comedian. Here he does shorter versions of some of his stand-up jokes about discovering he looks like he's Mexican and how he's now learning Spanish (after all, people who think he's Mexican quickly follow up that assumption by being disappointed that he doesn't speak Spanish, so why not?) and his parents' languages, Xhosa ("Why would you not want to speak a language with clicks? Listen to that, it's magic. It sounds like Chinese New Year in your mouth.") and German, in an effort to connect with his father, but he's already discovered the danger of acting too confident while speaking German.
He adds in a couple of jokes about New York. "Good evening — or not," he begins his set, "I've learned you shouldn't waste your time greeting people in New York." He discovered even "crazy people don't want to be bothered" in the city when he took a man ranting about hating Obama up on his invitation to ask him why. And he jokes about assumptions people make about Africa: "Africa is not a color, it's a place. I hate it when people treat me like that. I do some shows where people greet me like, 'This next comedian's coming from Africa!' They make it sound like a guy in leopard skin's going to come running on the stage and say, 'Let me tell you monkey jokes!' And it's not like that. I mean I do have good monkey jokes but that's not the point."
His May 2015 appearance on The John Bishop Show:
Noah began his set on the BBC One's weekly comedy show by talking about how the intense questioning he faces from British customs officials makes him doubt things he knows to be true. For instance, when one of the officials looked at his passport and said, "Is this you?" Noah tells the audience, "Never before have I felt so much pressure to look like myself." The kicker, though, is when the official explains, "I'm not trying to be a hard ass, but I can't just believe that you're here to do what you say you're going to do. You could do something else." "Fair enough," Noah points out. "That's a great attitude to have. It's an attitude I wish we'd had in South Africa when the British first arrived. It would have saved us a lot of pain." He then riffs on colonization, which he calls "the most arrogant form of patriotism," and how people in Africa and India might have responded to British colonizers.
His segment about ordering tacos from his That's Racist special:
As Noah explains when he's told he looks Mexican, "There were no Mexicans in South Africa; they never came over." Thus, he didn't have Mexican food before he got to the U.S. and went with a friend to a taco truck, an outing that was soon complicated by cultural differences. After Noah orders his taco, the man who gives it to him asks him if he wants a napkin. "In our side of the world, a 'napkin' is that thing babies wear to hold their shits," Noah explains.
"Why the hell would I want a napkin?" Noah says he told the server. "For the mess afterwards," the man says. Noah: "For the mess? Is it that instant that I'm going to need a napkin?"
Server: "You never know with tacos man. One minute you think you got it and then the next it's coming out."
Noah: "That's disgusting."
Server: "No it's normal. Everyone does it here, man. It's part of the experience."
He continues to recall his confused discussion with the server, with him thinking that the server asked him if he wanted a diaper and the server explaining the types of messes caused by tacos.
His segment about an angry cashier in his It's My Culture special:
Noah jokes about buying groceries and encountering a cashier who didn't greet him or even look at him, until she discovered that one of his groceries wouldn't scan and gives him an exasperated look. "They look at you like your dad invented the barcode," Noah says. And when the cashier asks him if he wants plastic bags, "like you killed baby panda bears for a living," he's so ashamed he just insists he'll carry the groceries.
He also talks about not understanding the trend the cashier was sporting of having drawn-on eyebrows. "They look angry because they've drawn their eyebrows on like a permanent scowl," he says. "I don't understand how anyone can commit to one expression for their entire day. Like how do you choose that expression? Do you just work on how you feel in the morning, is that what you do? What if something good happens?"
His impression of a drunk Nelson Mandela from his You Laugh, But It's True documentary:
Noah imagines how Nelson Mandela would have acted when he was drunk, like if he'd gotten wasted at his 91st birthday party with his famous friends in attendance.
"People don't want to think of Mandela drunk. I would have loved for him to let loose," Noah says. "It would be so crazy seeing Madiba pop out into the garden out of nowhere, his shirt open. There he is, one of those colorful ones." Noah's drunk Mandela uses the famous "Do you know who I am?" line and jokes with Bill Clinton.