To say that Trevor Noah has a lot to live up to is an understatement. Jon Stewart’s groundbreaking, 16-year run as the host of the satirical news program The Daily Show brought legions of loyal fans, the admiration of critics, and a boatload of Primetime Emmy Awards (21, to be precise).
Beginning tonight at 11/10c, comedian Noah (who served as a Daily Show correspondent before replacing Stewart) will take over as host and all eyes will be on him. Will he be able to carry the Daily Show name on his back? Can the show thrive without the comedic and political powerhouse that is Jon Stewart? Those questions won’t be answered until Noah gets some time as host under his belt, but until then we can share some must-know facts about the fascinating, funny 31-year-old star on the rise.
He’s the most popular comedian in Africa.
The South African native, who grew up under apartheid, often talks about his upbringing (he says he “was born a crime,” as he was the product of an interracial marriage, which was illegal at the time) and doesn’t shy away from talking about the perception of his native country.
He was a soap opera actor before he became a comedy star.
You’ve gotta get your big break somewhere, right? In 2002, at the age of just 18, Noah appeared in a South African soap Isidingo.
He’s already an experienced talk show host.
The world-renowned comic (who also hosted multiple awards shows) hosted his own show in South Africa called, fittingly, Tonight with Trevor Noah.
Late-night television is where Americans started to take notice of him.Embedded from player.vimeo.com.
While Noah was already selling out tours around the world, the U.S. really began to take notice of Noah when we made appearances on the likes of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he made his American television debut in 2012.
He already has seven comedy specials/documentaries under his belt.
Two of his acclaimed works, You Laugh But It’s True and Trevor Noah: African American—which both unflinchingly tackle race and culture—are currently available to watch on Netflix.
Eddie Izzard helped boost his profile.Getty Images
Noah told Time Out New York of how his relationship with Izzard started: “I met him years ago. I was in London, performing at the Comedy Store, and I met him there one night. I had no clue who he was—I felt horrible afterwards. He said he wanted to come to South Africa and I said I’d help him come out. And then later he asked if I wanted to come to Edinburgh, and I said, ’I’d love to.'” On getting the legend’s stamp of approval, he said, “If anything, it takes a bit of the pressure off because I’m going, ’Look, Eddie says I’m funny, so you should maybe trust Eddie.’ If an audience doesn’t laugh at a joke maybe I’ll say, ’Just so you know, Eddie said that joke was very funny,” and then they’ll feel really shit that they didn’t get it!'”
He’s a polyglot.
Noah speaks eight——that’s right, eight——different languages, including six South African languages.
He’s a big social media guy…even though some of his old tweets came back to haunt him.
Noah was a controversial Daily Show host from the jump. After it was announced he’d take over for Stewart, some stealthy Twitter searchers looked through his feed and found some ugly tweets from the boundary-pushing star, which were posted a few years ago. His older jokes were riddled with sexism and anti-Semitism and they caused an uproar with fans. Many in the comedy community, including Stewart, came to his defense, but it’s left something of a dark cloud over his name before he begins as host. Even so, the selfie-friendly star has over 2.6 million Twitter followers and 380,000 Instagram followers.
He’s going to switch things up on The Daily Show.
The new host told Entertainment Weekly, that in addition to a set change, he’ll be looking at news stories from his angles. “I’m taking things in a slightly different direction, but to the same endpoint,” he explained.
But he’ll keep some things the same, like making fun of Donald Trump.
As he told the San Jose Mercury News, “I will not discount a good silly joke. Donald Trump’s hair is funny. It’s always going to be funny.”