Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Joined ‘The Daily Show’ in December as a Correspondent
Noah, 31, joined The Daily Show in December and has made just three appearances as a correspondent on the show.
“It’s an honor to follow Jon Stewart. He and the team at ‘The Daily Show’ have created an incredible show whose impact is felt all over the world,” Noah said in a statement. “In my brief time with the show they’ve made me feel so welcome. I’m excited to get started and work with such a fantastic group of people.”
He told the New York Times about learning he got the job while in Dubai on his comedy tour:
You don’t believe it for the first few hours. You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.
Stewart said in a statement:
I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor. He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with…In fact, I may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!
Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless said in a statement:
Trevor Noah is an enormous talent. He has an insightful and unique point of view, and most importantly, is wickedly funny.For the next host of ‘The Daily Show,’ we set out to find a fresh voice who can speak to our audience with a keen take on the events of the day, and we found that in Trevor. He has a huge international following and is poised to explode here in America, and we are thrilled to have him join Comedy Central.
2. He Was Born in South Africa During the Apartheid
During a 2013 Showtime comedy special, Noah described his experiences growing up in Soweto, South Africa as a mixed race child. His mother is a black and from South Africa, while his father is white and from Switzerland. Noah said “I was born a crime,” because interracial sex and marriage were illegal under the apartheid system.
“They got together at this time and it was against the law, but they just didn’t care,” Noah said. “They were mavericks, they fought the law. … And they had me, which was illegal. It was something they never thought through, because we couldn’t live normally together. Like in the streets, my father had to walk on the other side of the road and he could just wave at me from a far. … And then my mom could walk with me, but if the police showed up she’d have to let go of my hand, drop me just so she wouldn’t get caught … It was horrible, I felt like a bag of weed.”
After becoming one of South Africa’s most popular comedians and hosting his own talk show there, Noah took his shows worldwide, making his U.S. TV debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
3. His Standup Focuses Heavily on Race
With the perspective of his childhood in South Africa and as an outsider in the U.S., Noah has made race a major focus of his standup career. He also often talks about his experiences viewing American culture through a foreigner’s lens.
Noah joked during his 2013 Showtime special, titled Trevor Noah: African American, that he came to America because he always wanted to be black, but was never given a racial identity in South Africa, where he was called a mixed race or mixed breed man.
His ability to speak about race comes from his roots, he told the New York Times, that “speaking freely about anything, as a person of color, was considered treason.”
Noah talked about his focus on race during a 2013 interview with Splitsider.com:
In South Africa, we have a very unique history with race. We have a very current situation with race. It’s part of our fiber; it’s part of what made the country. It really is our most prominent piece of history, so it’s something that many South African comedians talk about, which is really great. It’s definitely at the fore of what we do. So when watching American comedians, there were some things that did translate, because as a culture, black people share certain things everywhere. But then there were many things that are very different, so we still had to forge our own path when it came to this.
4. An Award-Winning Documentary Was Made About His Standup Career
David Paul Meyer made an award-winning documentary You Laugh But It’s True in 2011 about Noah’s comedy career in post-apartheid South Africa and rise to become one of the country’s top comedians.
5. His Debut Date Hasn’t Been Announced Yet
Comedy Central hasn’t announced yet when Noah will take over the show. Stewart has previously said he will step down sometime later in 2015.
Noah told the New York Times he realizes there will be some people criticizing his hire, saying “we live in a world where some people still say Beyoncé can’t sing. Clearly I’m not immune to that.”
He takes over at a turbulent time for Comedy Central, which also recently lost Stephen Colbert and saw John Oliver leave The Daily Show to start a successful show on HBO. Popular husband-and-wife correspondent team Jason Jones and Samantha Bee are departing Stewart’s show for a TBS comedy. Noah will serve as the lead-in for The Nightly Show, hosted by Larry Witmore, who is also a former Daily Show correspondent.
According to the Times, Noah had conversations with Stewart, and found a “kindred spirit,” saying “He told me, ‘I was where you were when I took over the show. Nobody knew me. I was just starting out, finding my voice, and that’s when I was handed this seat.’”
“Now,” Noah told the Times, “it’s my turn to steer the ship.”