‘Daily Show’: Trevor Noah Emerges on Short List to Replace Jon Stewart (EXCLUSIVE)

Daily Show Trevor Noah
Image courtesy of Comedy Central

Trevor Noah joined “The Daily Show” as a contributor only at the end of last year, but he could soon find himself serving as an integral part of the program.

Noah is gaining consideration as a potential successor to Jon Stewart, the Comedy Central mainstay’s longtime host, according to a person familiar with the matter, and if successful, could get a crack at becoming one of the more influential voices in latenight.

There is no guarantee that Noah will inherit Stewart’s seat, and no final decision has been reached, this person cautioned. Comedy Central’s selection process has accelerated in recent days, this person said. And Noah, a South African comedian, has moved to a short list being put together by executives at the Viacom-owned cable outlet.

A Comedy Central spokesman declined to comment on whether Noah was under consideration, or on efforts to identify a new host for “The Daily Show.”

The looming choice is crucial for Comedy Central. “The Daily Show” is arguably the network’s signature show, and Comedy Central last year bid farewell to another latenight mainstay, Stephen Colbert. He anchored “The Colbert Report,” a half-hour program following “The Daily Show” that gave Comedy Central a one-two punch in the fight to woo young audiences to its schedule. He will soon take up David Letterman’s place on CBS’ “Late Show.” The search for Stewart’s successor takes place as Comedy Central is showing a new program in Colbert’s 11:30 p.m. slot, “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore,” which uses comedy to explore culture, politics and race.

Comedy Central is already the only network to feature an African-American host in latenight: Larry Wilmore, a veteran producer and writer whose program has won some plaudits even as it continues to experiment with its format. Should Noah get the nod, the network would add a black comedian to the timeslot as competitors rely on white males and as many TV networks recognize the need to appeal more directly to America’s growing multicultural viewership.

Like Stewart, Noah is no stranger to tackling thorny issues. In South Africa, he was known for riffing on the topics of race and politics, even using his mixed-race parentage to get laughs. Noting that his mother is a black South African and his father a white Swiss, he once told an audience, “I was born a crime,” according to a 2013 report in the Wall Street Journal.

And he has experience with wee-hours programming, He hosted a latenight show in South Africa for two seasons, according to a biography located at his website, which bills him as the first standup comedian from South Africa to appear on either NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” or CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman.”

Since Stewart announced in February he expected to step down from his perch at the program sometime between July and the end of 2015, a number of obvious candidates to succeed him have made plans of their own. Samantha Bee, a veteran “Daily Show” contributor, has accepted a deal to start a similar “funny-news” program at Time Warner’s TBS. Both she and her husband, “Daily Show” contributor Jason Jones, are also producing a comedy for that network, in which Jones will star. Jessica Williams, another rising “Daily Show” presence, recently took to Twitter to declare herself “unqualified” for the role.

“The Daily Show” has had just two hosts since launching on Comedy Central in 1996: Craig Kilborn and Jon Stewart. Both were in their 30s when they took the reins of the program, and both were seen as up-and-comers, not entrenched players in the TV business. Noah was born in 1984, which would make him about 31 years old.

Under Kent Alterman, president of original programming, Comedy Central has sought people able to articulate a unique world view. The network has found success with programs featuring comedienne Amy Schumer as well as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, a duo who star in the program “Broad City.”

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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  1. roseyk says:

    I don’t get it. Have you not seen his 2011-2015 Twitter posts about women?? What’s going on?

  2. No Bueno says:

    Trevor isn’t an “African-American”. He is a South African.

  3. Ebony says:

    I don’t know much about him. Well anyway he’s very cute :-)

  4. Amy says:

    Well, at least Trevor Noah is funny.

  5. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan says:

    Wow!

  6. rufus says:

    I Love Trevor Noah.

  7. Kate says:

    Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!

  8. Adam Tawfik says:

    Please retire this franchise Comedy Central. Trevor Noah has so far been the weakest correspondant on the Daily Show. Jon Stewart has been visibly tired and bored for the last few months. Larry Wilmore’s show is kicking The Daily Show’s ass. Give Wilmore an hour; his panel discussions warrant it.

  9. Farzad Mansouri says:

    Oh my gosh, ohmygosh, OHMYGOSH! Breathe, slow timed breaths, phew. This is the best news ever, alright second best after hearing that I won a multimillion dollar lottery. Trevor would be an awesome host to replace Jon Stewart. He is hilarious and poignant with a smidgen of serious thrown in, you can’t ask for more than that.

  10. dean says:

    Jason Jones would have been the logical replacement. He and Bee hosted an outstanding Daily Show when Stewart was absent.

  11. Hire Tina and Amy says:

    This is a terrible choice. Trevor isn’t mature enough in his age or comedy. He had one bit where he pointed out that South Africa is more advanced racially than the U.S. and then rehashed that bit on air. He’s Please! Please! Please! do not do this.

  12. robthom says:

    ““TV networks recognize the need to appeal more directly to America’s growing multicultural viewership.” So, according to Brian Steinberg, blacks are the only minorities?”

    Blacks are the swiss army knife of minorities in the liberal playbook.
    An all purpose non-white.

    That being said, this young man appears to have the right qualifications.

  13. Thai Kim says:

    I’d say Kristen Shaal, but then I would miss her in actual tv/movies roles.

  14. Mike says:

    Y’know I wonder if this was a role they originally tried to court Michael Che for…also a rising star comedian who had a short run on the show but got poached with alarming speed for SNL weekend update – the only comparable gig in show biz.

  15. Kate says:

    I like Trevor Noah. I hope to see more of him in the Daily Show. However, I hope he doesn’t replace Jon Stewart–not yet anyway. He joined the Daily Show too recently and, more than anything, he’s a bit young. I’m only 29 myself, and certainly love the idea of young people having more of a say in the news world, but for me part of the appeal of the Daily Show is that Jon Stewart is so experienced. It is true that he is impossible to fully replace, as he is irreplaceable, so there is that to consider. Thus far, the best name I’ve heard floating around in the ‘next host’ discussions, though it is still difficult to accept that Jon Stewart is leaving, has been Tina Fey. She has a huge amount of experience and a similar sense of humor to Jon Stewart. Part of the issue I have seeing a Daily Show correspondent take over is that they all have characters that they play when they’re on the show. And many of them are best known for playing those characters on the show. So perhaps I’m just not familiar enough with their potential as host, as Jon Stewart is very real (a describing word I usually prefer not to use because what does it even mean to be “real”, but for lack of a better word…), down-to-earth, intellectual, and relatable. It is my hope that the next host (though I hate to even think about Jon Stewart leaving) is that it will be someone who can be both funny and serious, who is not playing a character (though these characters are so wonderful and useful in correspondents), who can laugh at him/herself and inject just the right amount of sarcasm and thoughtfulness into his/her deliveries. Jon Stewart somehow managed to do all of this and so much more. I was terrified the show would end after Bush left office, but as we can see, it hasn’t become any weaker. It continues to bring us important information and back its claims up with well-researched facts with a flawless delivery that is equal parts meaningful and hilarious. Jon Stewart’s leaving some very big shoes to fill, and people will have very high expectations. I do not know who the perfect next host would be, as he is already there in that seat. But I hope they choose someone with more experience than most of the current correspondents and who has at least a similar demeanor to Jon Stewart… thought perhaps that’s just me being sentimental. I grew up with his Daily Show and am very, very, very sad to see him go.

  16. PLP says:

    I like him, but I don’t think he’s old enough, or has the gravitas to fill Stewart’s place yet. The person needs to be known and recognized and a strong, political force to keep the audience. Maybe later on down the road for him.

  17. The only choice that would make any sense is Chris Hardwick. There would be viewers joining instead of jumping ship.

  18. Ruby Red says:

    Love Noah! would love to see him as host.

  19. LeapingLemur says:

    I totally called this. I thought it was very odd that Noah took a step down from his career to become a correspondent on TDS. As soon as he joined, I had the nagging feeling in the back of my head that Stewart was thinking of leaving (something I have thought would happen since I saw him on Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”) and that Noah was joining the cast SPECIFICALLY to be groomed as a future host.

  20. jj19871 says:

    “TV networks recognize the need to appeal more directly to America’s growing multicultural viewership.” So, according to Brian Steinberg, blacks are the only minorities?

  21. cathy says:

    I hope they don’t choose him. I’ve found him deeply unfunny so far. Jordan Klepper would be better if they’re going in-house.

  22. Olivia Munn says:

    Hugh Laurie would be great.

  23. Olivia Munn says:

    He’s as good as I was at being stiff and having no comedic timing or delivery.

  24. Alex says:

    This is a trial balloon, keep looking Comedy Central. Why don’t you try Ronan Farrow or Kathy Griffin…just kidding!

  25. Ernest says:

    Well, if Trevor Noah takes over the Daily Show then that will be the end of me watching it. I repeat, I do not think he is funny and I’ve watched enough of him to come to that conclusion. He is nowhere near Jon Stewart. I predict the show will go downhill if he takes over.

  26. Joe Seba says:

    I get it. “Variety” has to play along with the hype. But are we really supposed to believe that Jon Stewart’s retirement was spontaneous and not a well thought-out process? Am I really supposed to believe it was just coincidence that Trevor was brought in at the end of last year? And am I really supposed to believe that “Comedy Central” is scrambling to find a replacement? And am I really supposed to believe that the “possibility” of Trevor Noah just suddenly became a speculative replacement? Let’s get real. I’m looking forward to seeing Noah hosting the “Daily Show”.

    • LeapingLemur says:

      Yep. Exactly what I thought, Joe. I thought it was VERY odd that a comedian of Noah’s stature was brought in as a mere “correspondent”. Then I remembered the episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Stewart and how obviously tired and burned out he was when Seinfeld asked him how much longer he’d do TDS. I could see this coming, but had hoped it wasn’t true. I love Stewart and hate to see him go, but Noah is extremely talented.

      • Skiballas says:

        Well, seems Trevor got it all right
        I recall an interview with Howard Stern where John also said he want enjoying every day anymore. Mentioned it was lots of ups and down, but the ups were still more than the downs and that why he wasn’t stepping down. Guess the writing was on the wall.

    • Brian Steinberg says:

      Joe, no one thinks this is spontaneous, and we have reported that Comedy Central knew Stewart was stepping down well in advance of his on-air announcement.

  27. Boo. This guy is so not funny. I may have to stop watching the daily show after 20 years. Sux. Bring back Craig Kilborn if you can’t find anyone good!

  28. Ernest says:

    Trevor Noah is NOT funny!!!

  29. wjm980 says:

    It’s clear from the complete lack of ratings, or publicity, for the guy who took over for Colbert, that it was the host, not the show that brought people in. The Daily Show will be an also ran as soon as Stewart leaves.

  30. Sean Shannon says:

    This guy is Smart and is exactly the guy you want up there. Seriously. Go watch some of his stand up. why do you think they hired him. and guys he is new. you’ll warm up to him

  31. Brendan says:

    Terrible choice.
    He is the least funny member of the Daily Show. Every time I’ve seen him appear, he stumbles through the bits and had no sense of comic timing.

  32. Brooker T says:

    With Samantha Bee and Jason Jones leaving, my next choice would be Aasif Mandvi

  33. Damian says:

    Two words: Tina Fey

  34. Are there no Americans left for these jobs anymore? From that brit on HBO to this guy. I like Noah but he’s nowhere near ready for this.

  35. OhYeah1011 says:

    Oh no. I like his standup routine, but he’s not the one to replace Jon Stewart. We kinda need an American who’s really quick-witted and VERY politically well-versed. I think John Fugelsang is the best.

  36. Ruth Deutsch says:

    Trevor is clearly talented and funny having seen him for the first time on this video. I don’t know if there’s a Jon Stewart clone machine anywhere… If Trevor becomes his replacement, I just wish he could be a tad more “over the top”, improvisational, and more demonstrative the way both Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon are. Stay tuned?

    • imskeptical says:

      I just saw John Fugelsang on You Tube, and he would be perfect hosting the Daily Show! Sorry to say I’d never heard of him until I saw these comments, but I’ll definitely be watching him from now on.

  37. Jordan says:

    Good choice

  38. Will says:

    Bad choice

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