Fans of "The Daily Show," the humorous news program run by longtime host Jon Stewart, found out who would step into their departing hero's shoes this weekend. South African comedian Trevor Noah, who has logged a few appearances on the show, is taking over the reins on Comedy Central.
The gig is high-profile, and with that comes a considerable amount of scrutiny. Noah's Twitter history has now been raked through, with some people calling into question the taste of certain jokes posted on the social-media site, particularly ones referencing Jewish people and women.
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn't look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 18, 2009
"Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" - fat chicks everywhere.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 14, 2011
Lots of Twitter users are having their say about the tweets. Noah definitely has supporters. The "fat chicks" tweet from 2011 has 281 retweets and 103 favorites. Others are calling him anti-Semitic.
Some Twitter users called Noah out for being unfunny. Humor columnist Candy Kirby tweets, "@Trevornoah's 'jokes' slamming Jewish kids & fat chicks? Stupid, not funny. Archie Bunker did it better in 1971. Great pick, @ComedyCentral!"
Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement welcoming Noah to his new role and acknowledging the importance of humor. Foxman's statement includes this call for discretion:
We hope he will not cross the line from legitimate satire into offensiveness with jokes calling up anti-Semitic stereotypes and misogyny. And we hope that he and Comedy Central will make a conscious effort to ensure that The Daily Show remains funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews, other minorities and women.
It remains to be seen if Noah's tweets and the backlash against them will impact his debut on "The Daily Show." Comedy Central has yet to set a date for Noah's hosting premiere, but Stewart is expected to step down sometime this year.
Of course, the announcement of Noah's new position generated plenty of excitement, too. Largely an unknown in the US, Noah was cheered on by South Africans on Twitter and welcomed by other comedians. Shortly before the official Twitter account for "The Daily Show" tweeted "Very excited to welcome our next host: @Trevornoah. That's right - another guy in late night from Soweto," Chris Rock tweeted a photo of Noah along with the message "Thank you president Obama."
Comedy Central Press released a tweet Tuesday saying "@ComedyCentral stands with @Trevornoah" along with this statement: "Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central."
Update, 12:33 p.m. PT: This story has been updated to include the Comedy Central Press Twitter statement.
(Via New York Times)