Controversial comedian provides humor, social commentary

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By Daniel Ofman, staff writer, @ofmandaniel

Comedian Trevor Noah, rising host of the Daily Show, performs at Cole Field House for SEE's beginning-of-the-semester event. (Photo courtesy of The Diamondback)
Comedian Trevor Noah, who will host “The Daily Show” beginning Sept. 28, performs at Cole Field House Sept. 5 for SEE’s start-of-the-semester event. (Tom Hausman / the Diamondback)

South African comedian Trevor Noah generated excitement and curiosity Saturday night at Cole Field House in front of nearly 4,000 fans eager to see the future Daily Show host in action.

Back in March, Comedy Central announced that Noah would replace Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” His debut is scheduled for Sept. 28. It only took about 24 hours until many people took issue with some of Noah’s old tweets, calling them “anti-Semitic” and “sexist.”

In June 2010, one of Noah’s tweets read, “South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows how to be peaceful.” In September 2009, he tweeted, “almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car! [sic]”

These tweets stirred up some Internet outrage amongst critics who questioned whether Noah deserved to replace Jon Stewart after such remarks.

“The only issue is whether or not people will take him seriously if they will use those things against him, so I think he has to be careful,” Nouran Younis, a junior computer science and math major, said after the show.

Noah responded to critics via Twitter on March 31 saying, “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.”

Noah received a standing ovation after the Sept. 5 show.

Kyle McKilloe, a graduate student in information management, said “I think it would’ve been a mistake to go with someone like Jon Stewart.” McKilloe explained that someone like Noah with a new voice and a new worldview in contrast to Stewart would be a good fit for the Daily Show.

“He brought in a lot of social commentary but in a funny and non-threatening way,” said Dania Benalla, a sophomore microbiology and computer science major.

Throughout the show Noah touched on topics such as race, police brutality, terrorism and immigration. At one point during his act Noah said, “I don’t know how not to die in America.” He explained that he no longer “knew the rules” and that “black men get shot for anything,” referencing the cases of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott.

“He’s the outsider looking in, and he can call attention to some of the absurdities,” said Brianna Gallagher, a graduate student studying teacher leadership.

Throughout the show, Noah embraced the role of the foreigner looking closely at the state of American culture and politics, critiquing it comically.

Robel Asmerom, a senior public health and psychology major, said “most Americans, I think, can’t really see what’s going on here…. I feel like comedy is a way to introduce or inject truth into people without them being offended.”

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