×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Trevor Noah Defends ‘Green Book’ Joke on ‘The Daily Show’ Emmy Billboards (EXCLUSIVE)

Trevor Noah was hoping to make some noise with his latest “The Daily Show” Emmy campaign billboard — and it’s a mission he accomplished. “A billboard is supposed to get people’s attention,” Noah told Variety. “If we’re going to make a billboard, why waste your time [if you’re] not telling a joke or making it interesting? ‘The Daily Show’ is about sparking conversation.”

That’s indeed what the ad, seen around in Los Angeles and New York, has done. “Don’t ‘Green Book’ This One, Guys,” the billboard reads, and it’s a reference, of course, to the debate this past winter over whether “Green Book” deserved to win best picture at the Oscars.

Noah and his “Daily Show” writing team came up with the Emmy campaign after observing the handwringing in Hollywood over the “Green Book” win. Fans of the film appreciated its message about tolerance and unlikely friendships, while critics felt it was trite and a throwback to movies that take a surface view to race relations. It’s gotten to the point where a Google search for “Oscar” and “Green Book” leads off with these two headlines: “Oscars 2019: Why ‘Green Book’ should never have won best picture,” from USA Today, and “Oscar Winners: ‘Green Book’ Is a Best Picture Mistake” from The Atlantic.

Noah said the FYC ad wasn’t meant to be seen as an attack against “Green Book,” as much as it was a commentary on the whole idea of people getting worked up by that win — and having some fun with the debate.

“There were a few instances of early Oscar voters who said post the awards, they hadn’t even watched the other movies, or they voted for ‘Green Book’ just because they were angry that people said they shouldn’t vote for ‘Green Book,'” Noah said. “So it was an interesting moment where some people were using an Oscars vote as a protest vote or as a statement. And then people expressed a bit of regret after.”

The billboard, he said, was ultimately about “really stirring the pot. That’s what we do.

“The reason the billboard connects with people is because we tapped into a vein that clearly exists,” he said. “What we tapped into here is the whole fight that people are having about what should have won, what could have won and what didn’t win.”

Photos of the billboards are now starting to pop up on social media as people begin to notice the ad around town. (In L.A., there are at least two billboards located near the intersection of La Cienega and Olympic boulevards.)

“I don’t think it’s about throwing shade,” Noah added. “This is the space that ‘The Daily Show’ works within. We make jokes as commentary about what’s happening in the world around us. It goes from politics to pop culture to social justice to what’s happening in the world. And I think that billboard was exactly that.”

Noah said he had nothing against “Green Book” or its filmmakers, include Peter Farrelly. But still, it’s worth a debate over whether the “best picture” label was justified.

“I love Mahershala Ali more than I love most actors,” he said. “But, if we’re going to act like that is the best film winner, it’s a bit of a crazy that world we live in. We can agree to disagree, and I think that’s what makes these things fun. I don’t think there’s any objective measure of what makes art or something that people create good.”

Noah hasn’t seen one of the billboards out in the wild himself yet. Because “The Daily Show” shoots in New York, he says he feels a bit removed from the Emmy FYC frenzy in Los Angeles.

“It is a little fun to throw a cat among the pigeons and if some people take things way too seriously, we generally don’t,” he said. “We don’t take ourselves seriously, if you look at our previous FYC boards. My mantra at the show is, ‘let’s take the serious things seriously and let’s have fun with everything else.’ That’s how I try to live my life and that’s how I try to create ‘The Daily Show.'”

More TV

  • The 'Watchmen' Season Finale and More

    What to Watch on TV This Week: 'Watchmen' Season Finale on HBO

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Watchmen” airs its season 1 finale on HBO, and “The Expanse” returns for [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    ViacomCBS Will Explore Sale of Black Rock CBS Headquarters

    ViacomCBS will explore the sale of the famous Black Rock building, which has served as the headquarters of CBS since the mid 1960s. Bob Bakish, CEO of the company, which was created last week from the merger of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., said the newly combined entertainment conglomerate would explore the sale of sundry [...]

  • NBCUniversal Peacock

    Comcast to Spend $2 Billion on NBCU's Peacock Streaming Service in First Two Years

    Comcast expects to pump $2 billion into NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service over 2020 and 2021, while the company is projecting it will not be profitable for the first five years, according to CFO Mike Cavanagh. Cavanagh, who provided the details Monday at UBS’s Global TMT Conference in New York City, tried to put the Peacock [...]

  • Lorenzo Soria77th Annual Golden Globes Nominations,

    HFPA President Responds to Golden Globes' Female Director Shut-Out: 'We Vote by Film'

    Despite gains in the number of films and TV shows helmed by women, female directors were completely shut out of the Golden Globes once again this year. The snub was immediately called out on social media, with filmmakers like “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el tweeting, “do not look for justice in the awards system.” However, [...]

  • Bill Hemmer Will Inherit Shepard Smith

    Bill Hemmer Will Inherit Shepard Smith Slot at Fox News

    Bill Hemmer has been the faithful morning co-anchor at Fox News Channel, boosting the profiles of time-slot partners like Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream. Now he’s set to step into his own solo spotlight. Hemmer will take over the 3 p.m. timeslot previously anchored by Shepard Smith, the last stage of a much-scrutinized [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'Arrowverse' Crossover Propels CW

    TV Ratings: 'Arrowverse' Crossover Propels CW to Season High, 'Miss Universe' Down 18%

    Last night’s epic “Arrowverse” crossover episode  “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (part one of two) propelled the CW to its highest TV rating of the season so far. The episode came in at a 0.6 rating among adults 18-49 and drew 1.67 million total viewers, the second highest viewership for any episode on the network this [...]

  • The recipients of the 42nd Annual

    Heartfelt Tributes Trump Politics at Kennedy Center Honors

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Political chatter was kept to a minimum Sunday night as the Kennedy Center Honors presented elaborate tributes to “Sesame Street” — made more poignant by the death of legendary puppeteer Caroll Spinney earlier in the day — as well as Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, Earth, Wind and Fire and conductor Michael Tilson [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content