Review: Trevor Noah holds his own on 'The Daily Show'

Trevor Noah on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in New York. (AP)

Comedian Trevor Noah made a smooth transition as the new host of “The Daily Show.” Comedy Central’s flagship talk show was as clever and biting as ever, with new life and style brought by Noah’s comic skill set.

Noah’s opening monologue Monday night addressed the change of host without letting it overshadow the show’s topical commentary.

"Growing up in the dusty streets of South Africa I never dreamed I would have, well two things really,” Noah said, “An indoor toilet, and a job as the host of ‘The Daily Show.’ And now I have both, and I’m quite comfortable with one of them.”

The comedian’s cool and confident stage persona differs from former host Jon Stewart’s charming mania, but Noah is just as capable balancing mockery of politicians and celebrities with quality self-deprecation.

“I was very glad this morning when I came in to find that my security card still worked,” Noah said on his second show.

The show retains the same format, tone and objectives. There have been some minor aesthetic changes to the intro graphics and voiceovers; plus extra use of the show’s initialism “TDS.” Longtime correspondent Jordan Klepper joked about the changes in his first reappearance.

“Everything’s just so [expletive] new! The desk is different and the font, nobody asked me,” Klepper said.

But these changes are superficial. The show retains its wit, originality and devotion to giving a quirky contrarian spin on contemporary news.

Noah tackled media hysteria surrounding the pope’s tour of America. The host joked about pope emoticons, called his humility “under-compensating for something” and then said his progressive politics make the 78-year-old pontiff “a young Bernie Sanders.”

He later compared Donald Trump’s delusional arrogance to that of African dictators like Muammar Gaddafi and discussed the significance of NASA discovering liquid on Mars.

“Good news for Mars. Bad news for California,” Noah joked. “Don’t worry, California. They’ll find water on you too someday.”

The new host’s knack for impressions shined in coverage of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin’s passive aggressive lunch at the United Nations.

“Please tell Barack I have annexed this breads,” Noah said with a Russian accent. “They are now Russian breads.”

One of the week’s best segments tore into presidential candidates’ pandering to the youth vote.
“Presidential elections, in a democracy, are the ultimate contest to find the toughest leader, the sharpest thinker and of course, the old person who is best at pretending to like young people things,” Noah joked.

He lampooned Marco Rubio talking about Tupac Shakur, Ben Carson and Kanye West courting each other and Hillary Clinton talking about YouTube videos of Lenny Kravitz with Lena Dunham.
Noah shined in his interview with New Jersey governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie. 
After the governor said that the government had mishandled Social Security money, Noah gave him a wry smile, “Who is the government? I’m so confused. Are you?”

Seconds later Noah asked what would happen supposing “Chris Christie gets elected.” Before answering, the governor awkwardly tried to start crowd applause at the notion. 

“The Daily Show,” and satire more generally, matters for its devotion to skepticism, questioning and making light of those with power and fame. In his first week, Noah demonstrated the tact, intelligence and wit that will continue to fulfill the program’s mission.

Watch a compilation of Noah's greatest hits from week one below.


Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.