Johannesburg - In an exclusive interview with City Press, superstar comedian Trevor Noah has spoken about working on The Daily Show in a time of Donald Trump – and how the US president is helping him shift his show’s focus to international issues and not just US ones.
This week, Noah again broke his own viewership records, proving naysayers wrong that he would not be able to match his predecessor Jon Stewart’s popularity.
TAKING TRUMP ON
TV analysts attribute Noah’s success to his appeal to a new, millennial audience, to his penetration on social media and YouTube – and to Trump.
In May, Noah dedicated his MTV award for Best Host to the headline-grabbing president, saying: “Thank you to Donald J Trump for the comedy. The J stands for Jesus; a lot of people don’t know that.”
On a more serious note, City Press asked Noah if he felt it was his duty to take Trump on.
“As a person on the planet, I would like to think that my duty is to try to make my world better,” Noah wrote back.
“Everyone has an ability to do that. It is impossible to change the entire world by yourself, but you can just make the world you are in a little bit better. So, essentially, that’s what I try to do.”
Noah shared plans to broaden his audience even further: “What’s funny is that I actually thought that Hillary Clinton, had she become president, was going to give us the opportunity to talk more about international issues. But I guess Donald Trump ended up being the person who did that anyway.”
Noah says it was always his intention to incorporate more non-US news on his show, and in this regard Trump has been a double blessing.
“Since [Trump] has more of an adversarial relationship with the rest of the world, it has become an opportunity to talk about Saudi Arabia, to talk about Israel, to talk about the Vatican, to talk about Belgium and wherever Donald Trump gets himself into trouble.”
So, how does he keep up with world news?
“I spend about an hour and a half just reading the news. You can’t know everything, obviously, but I try to learn as much as possible.
“So, every morning I just try to read as much as I can ... I try to make sure I only comment on things that I know, because when you don’t live in a place, you have to be careful when you comment on their news or analyse what is happening. You may not know the nuance. When I travelled recently, I found that in certain countries they didn’t think that Donald Trump was as crazy as we in America think he is. Because when you translate him into another language, apparently it doesn’t sound so stupid.”
Does he think he will be able to get Trump supporters to change their minds through his jokes?
“Oh no. Or maybe very few of them. Because if you’re a Trump voter, you are in heaven right now. Donald Trump is doing everything that he said he was going to do for you. He’s not the best president for Americans, but, if anything, Trump is the best president for Trump voters.”
On Wednesday, it was reported that The Daily Show with Trevor Noah secured its most-watched period for the second quarter of this year, and its most-watched month in June. It is now the top late-night talk show for millennials aged between 18 and 34, and bags an average 1.5 million viewers a night.
The Daily Show is also racking up record video streams on Comedy Central’s website – up 118% since he first sat in the host’s chair. In the second quarter of this year, the show attracted 203 million video views on Facebook (up 184% in a year) and 143 million streams on YouTube (up 305% in a year).
Catch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah from Tuesdays to Fridays on Comedy Central (channel 122 on DStv) at 21:30.