Trevor Noah, the controversial South African comedian Comedy Central named successor to Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show” last month, has — unsurprisingly — grown far more popular on YouTube.

But Noah started from relative obscurity. And even after his recent notoriety, Noah currently has only about 200,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, registering just 19 million views to date — far fewer than many big YouTube stars. For example, top YouTuber PewDiePie (real name: Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) has nearly 36 million subscribers; and Michelle Phan, who is expanding her empire with Endemol Shine, has about 7.5 million followers.

Still, the comic has risen dramatically in the zeitgeist. Within hours of Comedy Central’s March 30 official announcement of Noah’s replacement of Stewart, search interest on both Google and YouTube for “Trevor Noah” boomed. Compared with the previous day (Sunday, March 29) search volume increased 2157% day-over-day on YouTube, according to the Internet company.

The new “Daily Show” host has been embroiled in controversy over Twitter posts he previously made that many interpreted as sexist or racist. Comedy Central defended Noah, saying in part, “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair.”

Noah’s first major release on YouTube was his 2009 comedy special “The Daywalker.” Since then, 12 of his videos on the Google-owned site have earned more than 1 million views, including nine from his own channel, which features highlight clips from his standup performances and other projects. Noah’s global popularity began growing in 2012, when clips of his “Crazy Normal” special began spreading on YouTube.