Meet Trevor Noah: The most vocal African in America

Since arriving America in 2011 Trevor Noah has risen to be one of the most visible native-born Africans in America as host of  The Daily Show. But his comedy belies his strong liberal beliefs and he has used that global platform to show the world what a gifted intellectual he is, albeit a funny one. This biography  by cutfm tells us more about his years in South Africa and his sojourn in America so far.

Trevor Noah is one of the top stand-up comedians from South Africa. After smashing the local charts. he began touring internationally. After having made appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and The Late Show With David Letterman, Noah took on a correspondent role on the popular American show, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Upon Stewart announcing his departure from the show in 2015, Noah was named as his replacement and has been ever since.


Trevor Noah as a small boy

Trevor Noah was born on the 20th of February, 1984 in Johannesburg. His father Robert is of white Swiss German ancestry, and his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is of a Xhosa bloodline. She became converted to Judaism when Trevor was just 10 or 11 years old, but did not have him convert, although she introduced him to some aspects and practices of Judaism.

Given the times they lived in, according to apartheid legislation, Trevor’s mother was classified as Black, and his father was classified as White. His parents’ interracial relationship was then classified as illegal. The Interracial sexual relations and marriages were not legalized until the amended Immorality Act of 1985, which was a year after Trevor Noah’s birth.
As a result, Patricia Noah was jailed and fined by the South African government. She and her mother, Nomalizo Frances Noah, raised Trevor.

At the age of three Trevor started pre school, then at the age of five he went to primary school, a Catholic school in Johannesburg. This saw him attending the Roman Catholic church every Sunday during his childhood. He spent his early youth at the private Maryvale College.

In 2002, aged 18, Trevor had a bit role on an episode of the South African soap opera Isidingo. He then began hosting his own radio show Noah’s Ark on Gauteng’s leading youth radio station, YFM.

Noah dropped his radio show and acting to focus on comedy. He managed to perform with South African comedians such as: David Kau, Kagiso Lediga, Riaad Moosa, Darren Simpson, Marc Lottering, Barry Hilton and Nik Rabinowitz, international comedians such as Paul Rodriguez, Carl Barron, Dan Ilic and Paul Zerdin, and as the opening act for Gabriel Iglesias in November 2007 and Canadian comedian Russell Peters on his South African tour.

Trevor went on to host an educational TV programme, Run The Adventure in rhe years 2004 to 2006 on SABC 2. In 2007, he hosted The Real Goboza, a gossip-themed show on SABC 1, and Siyadlala which is a sports show also aired on SABC 1.

In 2008, Noah co-hosted, alongside Pabi Moloi, The Amazing Date (a dating gameshow) and was a Strictly Come Dancing contestant in the fourth series. In 2009, he hosted the 3rd Annual South Africa Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) and co-hosted alongside Eugene Khoza on The Axe Sweet Life, a reality competition series. In 2010, Noah hosted the sixteenth annual South African Music Awards and also hosted Tonight with Trevor Noah on MNet (for the second series, it moved to DStv’s Mzansi Magic Channel). In 2010, Noah also became a spokesperson and consumer protection agent for Cell C, South Africa’s third-largest mobile phone network provider.

Trevor has performed all over South Africa in The Blacks Only Comedy Show, the Heavyweight Comedy Jam, the Vodacom Campus Comedy Tour, the Cape Town International Comedy Festival, the Jozi Comedy Festival and Bafunny Bafunny (2010). His stand-up comedy specials in South Africa include The Daywalker (2009), Crazy Normal (2011), That’s Racist (2012), and It’s My Culture (2013).

He relocated to the United States in the year 2011. On the 6th of January 2012, Trevor became the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Tonight Show. Shortly after that, he became the first to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman. In the very same year, he gave the world hes one man show Trevor Noah:The Racist, which was based on his similarly titled South African special That’s Racist.

In the year 2013, he performed the comedy special Trevor Noah: African American. This saw him steadily climbing up the ranks as a comedian. On the 11th of October 2013, he was a guest on BBC Two’s comedy panel show QI. Just a month after that, he was a panelist on Channel 4 game show 8 Out of 10 Cats and appeared on Sean Lock’s team in 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown on 12 September 2014.


The Daily Show – Trevor Noah
In December 2014, Trevor Noah became a recurring contributor on The Daily Show. On 30 March 2015, Comedy Central announced that Trevor would succeed Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show; his tenure began on 28 September 2015. Within hours after announced as Stewart’s successor, attention was drawn on the Internet to several jokes that Noah had posted on his Twitter account, which were criticized by some as being offensive to women and Jews,and to be making fun of the Holocaust.

Noah responded by tweeting, “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.” Comedy Central stood behind Noah, saying in a statement, “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.”

Mary Kluk, chairperson of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), said that the jokes were not signs of anti-Jewish prejudice and that they were part of Noah’s style of comedy. Noah’s debut received positive reviews. James Poniewozik of The New York Times praised Noah and the shows writers saying, “Mr. Noah’s debut was largely successful, it was also because of the operating system – the show’s writing – running under the surface”.

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