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Almost as soon as he was anointed as the next host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah came under fire for past tweets that made jokes about women and Jewish people.
Though Noah has remained mostly mum as the old comments gained traction, a network spokesman released the following statement in his defense on Tuesday afternoon: “Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. 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.”
The backlash came quickly on Monday evening as more old tweets from the South African comedian were unearthed. He alluded to the criticism in a Tuesday missive on Twitter, but it was quickly deleted. “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter,” it read.
Later in the afternoon, Noah chimed with his official comment: “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.”
It all made for quite the busy 24 hours over at the cable network. Naming Jon Stewart‘s heir to The Daily Show was initially met by more than a few shrugs. Though a much bigger presence internationally, Noah has a low profile in the United States. Since joining The Daily Show as a correspondent in December, he’s only appeared on the telecast a handful of times.
At just 31 years old, the incoming host brings a fresh perspective after Stewart’s 16-year tenure at the series. Network president Michele Ganeless told The Hollywood Reporter that they’d be using that to help renew interest in the still-successful franchise once it loses its revered host to retirement.
“What The Daily Show does in late night is so different from any other late-night comedy show,” said Ganeless. “Truly, no other show is doing the kind of political satire that The Daily Show does. So I think the audience that watches is looking for that. With a new host coming in, it’s an opportunity to bring new attention to the show, and in a perfect world, gain more viewers.”
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