When news broke, Trevor Noah fixed it


Who is Trevor Noah?

That was the collective cry across those audiences who loved mixing comedy with news — especially those who tuned into Jon Stewart every night on Comedy Central for “The Daily Show.”

But Stewart was moving on — quite literally to greener pastures. And replacing him was a rather unknown comedian (at least to American audiences) who had been in the United States barely a minute before getting the nod.

Trevor Noah had his work cut out for him. “The Daily Show” was a storied franchise that launched the careers of everyone from Stephen Colbert, to Steve Carell, to John Oliver, and some could argue even Stewart himself, who struggled with a number of intuitive projects that just never connected with audiences.

If there was a mold to what a host of an American news satire show should be, Noah broke it. He spent his entire life in South Africa. Had only been on the comedy stand-up stage for about a decade or so. And his own late-night talk show back home barely lasted a year.

Yet, here he was. Sitting in Jon Stewart’s chair. In front of Jon Stewart’s audience. But it wasn’t Stewart’s chair, or his audience. From his very first words, Trevor Noah showed why Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” was now Trevor Noah’s “Daily Show.”

“Before we get started, I just want to say a few things,” Noah said at the top of his first episode on Sept. 28, 2015. “First of all, this is surreal for me. I’m not going to lie. Growing up in the dusty streets of South Africa, I never dreamed I would one day have — well, two things, really. An indoor toilet, and a job as host of ‘The Daily Show.’”

Noah would go on to earn nearly a dozen Emmy nominations — winning once in 2017. Hosting the last three Grammy broadcasts, including the most recent last month. And becoming a star in his own right, making headlines again when he left “The Daily Show” late last year after seven seasons.

Who is Trevor Noah? Ask him yourself on Tuesday, March 7 when the comedian makes a stop at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts for “A Conversation with Trevor Noah.”

For Tom Dunn, bringing Noah to Tilles is a fantastic way to officially start his tenure as executive director there — especially as audiences slowly start returning to live events.

“Look, we are in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” Dunn says. “As we emerge from the pandemic, there’s certainly a hunger to return to live entertainment. But we’re still seeing a lingering hesitancy as well. But, you know, when we bring in world-class talents and voices like Trevor, there is tangible excitement.”

Fresh from his latest Grammy-hosting stint, Noah is about to launch his “Off the Record” world tour. But what he’s bringing to Tilles is different. There’s no script, Dunn says. Just a conversation he’ll have with comedian and regular “Daily Show” correspondent Roy Wood Jr.

“He’s out touring the country and the world, selling out arenas,” Dunn says. “So, to have the opportunity here on Long Island —  to see this talent in our intimate concert space — is something that we’re really, really excited about.”

While it’s almost a certainty Noah will talk about “The Daily Show” and the Grammys — maybe even last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner — the comedian has other work he’ll want to share, too. Like the 12 comedy specials he has written, produced and starred in — including his third for Netflix, “I Wish You Would,” which was released last November.

He’s also the author of the best-seller “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.” And his stand-up special, “Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia,” that itself earned a Grammy nomination for best comedy album in 2020.

Dunn can’t say it enough: There’s plenty to talk about, and you don’t want to miss a single word.

“Come hear a singular world-class talent and voice talk about the issues of the day. Talk about his incredible life journey, to what sort of got him here,” Dunn says.

“You’ll come away being entertained, informed, and having spent an evening out in the community in a way I think we all need as we emerge from this pandemic.”