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

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content