Trevor Noah is not Jon Stewart. And that should be allowed.

He’s no Jon Stewart. He’s not supposed to be.

 

Never heard of Trevor Noah until the announcement that he was going to be ‘the guy’ replacing Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. And had he not been chosen as ‘the guy,’ there’s a pretty good chance I may never have heard of him. But he has, and I have, and that’s where it is. This is a bit of a detour from my usual posts related more directly to writing, but then again it’s not. Stick with me.

So here’s the thing; I have absolutely no idea how the new guy will do as Stewart’s replacement, and I may or may not check in to see once he begins his tenure. But in reading Comedy Central’s defense of his selection after the firestorm that has erupted in reaction to some tweets that Noah sent, the one thing that stands out to me more than anything else is the rather obvious – yet rather important – statement that Trevor Noah was never expected to be the next Jon Stewart. Because Jon Stewart has left the building, and no clones need apply. Trevor Noah is Trevor Noah, and that is all and everything. Stewart fans who were expecting someone to stick their head through the cardboard cutout where Stewart’s head used to be need to get over it.

What Stewart accomplished during his nearly two decades hosting the program is closing in on legendary. He pretty much re-wrote the book for political satire, at least in the live performance arena, and then he went and launched the career of yet another powerhouse, Stephen Colbert who, in my opinion, may even be better than Stewart. Just one person’s opinion.

So anyone coming behind that kind of track record was voluntarily stripping themselves naked before standing in front of a giant blowtorch. No one, no matter who was chosen, was going to calmly  slide right on in behind Stewart and assume the controls on that chair. I’m assuming that at least partially explains why there wasn’t a rush of applicants for that job. The platform and exposure is great, but check out the price tag.

None of which is to necessarily defend Noah’s tweets. It’s just that I don’t think that’s what this is really about. This isn’t about whether or not Trevor Noah should be crucified for using offensive language, or for writing some bad jokes. Nor is it about whether we can honestly brand Noah as a sexist or anti-Jewish, because based on the tweets I saw you’re going to need a hell of a lot more to make that stick. What this is about is punishing Trevor Noah for not being Jon Stewart before he’s even had the chance to learn what it’s like to be himself on such an incredibly large stage.

Noah may be ready for this assignment, and then again he may not. We’ll see. I sincerely hope he does well, because this is definitely the chance of a lifetime. But I also hope he doesn’t get scared of taking risks and using risky language. Sometimes risky language is the only language that gets the job done. It may take him awhile to hone his language skills to the level required for his new assignment, but he deserves the chance to get there. But Noah will have to be the one to take that chance. No one can do that for him. Just like no one could do it for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. And if you don’t think either one of them used the wrong words and phrases at the wrong time more than a few times, then you need to go back and rewind that tape.

 

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About the author
kaoblues
Writer and musician.

2 Comments

Mary G

2015-04-05 22:53:15 Reply

What “language” are people complaining about? Jon said “Fuck”, “Damn”, “Hell”, “shit” and every other Bad Word imaginable, pretty much every episode? What else IS THERE??? LOL

Seriously?

    kaoblues

    2015-04-06 00:39:15 Reply

    My sentiments exactly, Mary!

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