The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: How Did Trevor Noah Do in His First Week?

Man, time passes fast doesn't? It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating Trevor Noah's first night on the job at The Daily Show, and now here we are, and he has completed an entire week. Woah. Given that we have so much more information about the South African-born comedian's work behind the desk that made Jon Stewart a household name and American icon, we figured it was a good time to journey back through the hours and hours of material to identify what has worked pretty well, what still needs time to develop, and everything else in between—clips included! You people love clips. 

I'll grade Noah's first week on a pass/fail basis, divvying it up into highs and lows. 

HIGH: The successful, albeit safe, first night

I'll talk more about some of the specific things that didn't go quite as well on Monday's show, but I was extremely impressed by Trevor Noah on night number one. He's stepping into unbelievably large shoes, and while the format of the show didn't really change much at all and therefore helped him ease into The Daily Show atmosphere, he was surprisingly confident and comfortable behind that big ol' desk. Noah's comedic stylings are significantly different from late-era Jon Stewart—specifically, he's a little more mean spirited in a good way—but both he and the show did a fine job of combining those stylings with a typical episode of TDS. There was just the right mix of references to taking over for a legend, the importance of the job, and so on. We expect these shows to be just okay in the early going, but Noah was ready to subvert that expectation out of the gate.

LOW, MOSTLY: Interview segments

The tricky thing with late-night shows is that the audience rarely cares about the interview segment, so when goofballs like me underscore that "Hey, Trevor Noah (or any other new host) needs to get better at conducting a short interview," I'm not actually sure that many people at home are that turned up about it. NEVERTHELESS: Noah has a lot of work to do with his interviewing style. As with most newbies, he cut his guests off more than once, failed to sell some of Kevin Hart's admittedly bad jokes (seriously Comedy Central, that's your big get for the first night?), had an increasingly uncomfortable conversation with Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe, and simply didn't know how to react to Ryan Adams' inherent Ryan Adamsness. 

However, like Stephen Colbert's first few episodes on The Late Show earlier in September, Noah seemed much more comfortable talking with politicians, in this case New Jersey governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie. Noah asked Christie clear but amusing questions about the stupidity of the three-hour Republican debates, his fingerprinting plan for immigration reform, and the much-maligned lack of collaboration and compromise in government. It helped that Christie, for all his pratfalls over the last 18 months, was a relatively charming, affable presence, but Noah's performance in that segment suggested that TDS won't be moving away from its political engagement any time soon. Now if he could only bring that energy and interest to less essential interviewees. Like Kevin Hart.


HIGH, LOW, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN: Race in America

As many predicted, Noah's version of the show wasn't afraid to address racial politics in the opening week (not that Stewart was either, but the new host's mixed-race background brings with it certain expectations). These segments ran the gamut from pretty good to meh, which is entirely common to any late-night talk show in a given week. Monday night's segment with new correspondent Roy Wood Jr. about black people never making it to Mars was funny almost entirely on the back of Wood's performance, while Tuesday's more Noah-driven commentary on Kanye West's interest in the campaign of one Ben Carson (the one black Republican candidate) was about as toothless as you can get with its jabs at Kardashians and Carson's monotonous tone of voice.

Still, those mixed results were entirely pushed aside by a tremendous pre-taped segment with Wood Jr. and Jordan Klepper investigating the inherent bias of police officers and the training being done all over the country to try to prevent the violence and tumult between predominantly white police forces and black citizens in recent years (or, more specifically, forever). The bit more or less had one premise—that Wood believed cops were biased/racist and the white Klepper argued otherwise—but it was played to perfection across multiple beats, including Klepper putting on a police windbreaker and immediately looking like a cop and Wood Jr. "calling" Black Twitter to tell them he got a police chief to admit that cops do indeed have bias. Although Noah mostly introduced the segment and played referee, it's great to be reminded that TDS is still invested in producing bits that both inform and poke fun at serious issues happening in the world.


HIGH: The correspondents in general

Wood Jr. and Klepper already got a shout out, but Desi Lydic, most recently of Awkward. has been a fine addition to the news team as well, working very effectively with Hasan Minhaj in a Tuesday segment about ISIS and art dealers, and Al Madrigal continued to be weird, funny, and compelling just has he's been in the past. 


MEH: Noah's commentary on the media

We all know that one of Jon Stewart's strengths was pointing out the stupidity, biases, and contradictions in cable news coverage. In his first week, Noah hasn't shown to be that adept in this regard, instead turning in some shrug-inducing takedowns of Wolf Blitzer's body-language analysis (complete with his own analysis of Wolf Blitzer's body language) and a far too long segment about the media coverage and overall sensationalism behind pumpkin-flavored trash food. It's possible that Jon simply did this kind of comedy and coverage far too long that there's nothing exceptionally great to bring to the table, but audiences are likely looking for TDS to continue to do it, so Noah will need some time to settle in properly.


HIGH: Noah's 'global' perspective

Although it became such a cliché in the lead up to the premiere that Noah would provide the show with a much more nuanced and concerned "global perspective," so much so that there was a throwaway line about it in the Monday episode, you could definitely see how that cliché might function in practice. Thursday's extended comparison between the insanity that is Donald Trump and a handful of notable African presidents showcased Noah's insights about his home continent and further illustrated how much of a clown show Trump's presidential campaign has been. Those are the kind of segments that effectively tell the audience that the host is coming at all of this American stupidity from a different angle without alienating them, or turning Noah into a stereotypical outsider.


HIGH: The response to the Oregon college shooting

Noah is still working on how to modulate his persona for the various tones and circumstances that he'll be asked to cover on the show, but I at least appreciated the attempt at being earnest and horrified at yet another mass shooting on American soil. Though you can imagine that Stewart might have played that moment much more exasperatedly and then jumped into a tremendous screed, Noah seemed legitimately overwhelmed and unsure of what to say other than the truth, and that's a great sign for how he'll handle more traumas like this in the future.

SUMMARY

All in all, I really liked what I saw from Trevor Noah, the correspondents, and the slightly reconfigured Daily Show. Not a lot has changed, which is mostly a good thing, and there were absolutely no major disasters in what was frankly a pretty hefty week news-wise. I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Anyone out there completely turned off by Noah? Anyone like him better than Jon Stewart?! Let us know in the comments!

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Nov 25, 2015
I like him. Being an American living in South Africa I totally get his humor. I'm sure like America loves to judge people, I think he's doing a fine job filling such big shoes. Ya, he lacks some interview skills but when you have only a few minutes to ask the right questions then allow that person to speak without cutting him/her off is a skill in itself. I hope they keep him around.
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Staff
Oct 27, 2015
well done
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Oct 07, 2015
I didn't watch TDS with JS, but I'd seen TN a while back on a British comedy show and found him intelligent and engaging, so thought I'd give him a chance. I've watched every episode since. It's not perfect but I'm enjoying it. TN has great potential and I admire his confidence given that he isn't American. I loved the police racism and the Donald Trump/African dictator segments and laughed my socks off. I think TN will be amazing in time, in the meantime I intend to keep watching. I look forward to his humour getting darker and darker...
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Oct 07, 2015
Yes I believe he is refreshing and making it better than before.
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Oct 04, 2015
John Stewart and David Letterman are both really tough acts to follow. So you have to pity the poor fool who tries. That said, I like him...
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Oct 04, 2015
I think Noah is doing a pretty good job. I don't like him better than Jon Stewart though. I like him in a different way than Jon Stewart.
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Oct 04, 2015
Still too soon for me. I'll watch clips here and there but I still need time before i jump back on watching every episode
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Oct 04, 2015
I don't really watch tv live any more, not even the nightly comedy talk shows, so in order to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, for the last several years, I wasn't just flipping through the channels, but actively seeking them out online, generally a couple days late. I don't know, I may not feel as motivated to seek this out. Not because it's not good, but just because I was seeking the show out out of MAJOR Stewart loyalty. And as my main source of news. Anyway, this looks good, still more my type of thing than most other nightly talk shows, so I'll check in with it periodically and see if I can come to love it as much as Jon Stewart's version. (Though I do agree with people who say maybe he was getting more angry and jaded with time, and perhaps it's better he went out still on top.)

By the way, is Jon on tv anywhere now? I miss him. I really wish he would have made it through one more presidential election with us. :( I feel like reporters should be following him around and asking for comments on currents events and especially political developments.
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Oct 04, 2015
I think Trevor Noah did well in his first week as host of The Daily Show. However that does not mean the week was without its problems. Noah does not seem to be a very good interviewer. The interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was unimpressive. It seemed more like a bromance than talking about serious issues. Noah's predecessor once interviewed Christie and it was a much better interview in the sense that they actually discussed pressing issues at the time. Another thing that was unimpressive was the story that Jordan Klepper and new correspondent Roy Wood, Jr. did about whether or not police are racist. The attempts at humor just fell flat. There are some positive things to say though. Noah's piece about how Donald Trump would make a great president in Africa was very clever. Noah's sharpest piece yet. I also liked Noah's words of appreciation to his predecessor. Especially the concluding remark when Noah said he will try hard to not make Jon Stewart "look like the crazy old rich guy who left his fortune to some random kid from Africa." Hopefully in the weeks and days ahead Trevor Noah will get the kinks ironed out and come into his own as host.
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Oct 04, 2015
I think it went very well considering the void that was left. Go back and look at JS for few weeks, granted he didnt have HUGE shoes to fill, but it took time. Colbert has adjusted, his interview skills were somewhat erratic, but it will take time. Still, its all about the writing, PERIOD! Still love the 1-2 punch of TDS and Colbert!!! Great way to end the day, or for me, start my comedic evening!
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Oct 03, 2015

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Oct 04, 2015
It's truly a mess they don't put their stuff up on YouTube. It's where Late Night takes place nowadays.
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Oct 03, 2015
I think he did good.
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Oct 03, 2015
I still can't believe how strong this week actually was.

Noah delivered an awesome first show (unlike Colbert), drew even more viewers the day after I heard. And boy did we get instant classics: talking Trump/Africa, which can easily be considered one of the best Trump/presidential comedy-bits we've seen on TV. Also, the Klepper/Wood Jr. fieldpiece was one of the strongest pieces we've seen this year and it's just not getting into my head that it had been Roy Wood Jr.'s very first. And Desi Lydic – amazing choice!

Yet, I can't get my head around Klepper and Al Madrigal. Klepper keeps playing the silly white-dude, yet his sillyness alone doesn't cut it for me. While I liked Madrigals segment this week, he often seems to be more invested in throwing in names of mexican food into his segments, instead of fine jokes.

Sure, they are both doing fine bits from time to time, but I think Jon hiring them was one of the early signs that he wasn't as invested in the show as he used to be. I know it needs time, and i'm sure they'll eventually get better and more comfortable, but those 2 aren't even close to the likes of Jason Jones, Aasif Mandvi and John Oliver, which drastically decreased the quality of the show for me.

That rant got way out of hand now. Nevermind, I love the show and i'm freaking excited to see what Trevor and the crew got in store for us!
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Oct 03, 2015
I think Trevor did very well and I'll certainly keep watching. I was a bit astonished to find his shows were not to be found on this site yet, though.
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Oct 03, 2015
I think that Trevor's debut has been good enough for me to stay and give him a chance. Filling in Jon Stewart's shoes is pretty hard.

So, let's not expect that.

Instead, lets see where this leads and how Noah's version of show will evolve.

On thing I would wish to go away are the musical segment. Let the other shows do that, put more content instead.

So, that's the one aspect I don't like, and basically skip.

Still, so, far, I was entertained.

That's a good start no?

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Oct 03, 2015
I don't really care for him, maybe he will grow on me.
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Oct 03, 2015
He did a great first week and the addition of a more global viewpoint very welcome. The new correspondents are first class. At times Trev seems to be a bit nervous, which is understandable and it will be interesting to see how the show changes when he really settles in. Anyway does anyone know where I can get a sweet potato latte?
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Oct 03, 2015
To those doubters Jon was always going to leave the show in safe hands!
Less interveiws with people just plugging their new "fill in the gap" might be a good thing to shake the show up? Jon stopped caring about most of his interveiwees a long time ago.
Could Klepper/Wood be the new Oliver/Wilmore double act?
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Oct 03, 2015
I must say..i will miss Jon Stewart.and i also must say..I love Trevor..
I think Jordan Klepper and Noah have a better chemistry than with Jon. I am looking forward to their future bits. Trevor also seemed unique, like he was not trying to be Jon. I loved his interview with Christie,the Bamble lady and his Trump bit was my favorite. The Xhosa part (i think) had me in stitches.The new correspondents are great, i miss Jessica though.
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Oct 03, 2015
"Mean-spirited in a good way"?! I think that's the only time I heard that. Come on Cory, didn't bully kids well enough in middle school?

While the delivery was smooth and not a lot of opening-night jitters, I think it mostly was so-so material that some worked but a lot fell flat and not something I'd tune from Conan to see.
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Staff
Oct 03, 2015
I was a fantastic bully in middle school, thank you.

Still am.
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Oct 03, 2015
I think Jordan Klepper works better with Trevor Noah than Jon Stewart they have good chemistry...

on the interview department Chris Christie interview was really good but the other two were meh... I don't really like the Kevin Hart humour he is overrated so yeah I didn't like it and the Bumble CEO was all-buisness... so I don't see the fault with Noah
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Oct 02, 2015
I was very apprehensive about Noah taking over but he broke through my defenses with the bit about Popemojis. I actually had to pause and record it to send it to a friend.

Also he finished the week with Ryan Adams, a personal hero of mine so huzzah!
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Oct 02, 2015
Trevor Noah did a great job this week. He was hilarous sitting behind the desk. The Ben Carson/Kanye West had me lmao.

Jordan Klepper was also great this week. Hilarous piece with Ron Wood Jr. was fantastic.

As for Ron Wood Jr.he was good, rather uncomfortable with the "Black Guy" humor. It's just so ugh. Just as much fun listening to Jessica Williams on pieces.

And Desi Lydic, was was alright. Not much seen from her this week. She had about 3 minutes of TV time. Reminded me of Sam Bee.
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Oct 02, 2015
I agree with all of this. At this early stage I think I was actually more worried about his stage presence and comedian skills than his satirical news chops and he was very comfortable and pretty funny. On that side of things he's already looking better than the fill in hosts I've seen, including John Oliver and Steven Colbert, and actually John Oliver still really struggles with this (luckily he makes up for it in other ways). Trevor clearly does know enough about news so that plus an outstanding writing and production staff should have him in good stead. He's not Jon but I have very high hopes.
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Oct 03, 2015
I don't understand why you would be more worried about his comedic skills and stage presence, considering he was a stand-up comedian for years before this. Seems a little backwards to me, but, to each their own. :P
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Oct 03, 2015
Even plenty of comedians aren't comfortable running a TV show (see just about every late night non-satirical show) and especially one with this kind of subject matter. Such a big part of Jon's success were his cartoonish reaction faces and physical comedy. Capturing that side of things is a huge challenge for the replacement.
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Oct 03, 2015
Now that you've re-worded your statement, I can agree. It was the fact that "stage presence" and "comedic skills" go so hand-in-hand with stand-up comedy, that made me unable to agree. Now I see what you meant.
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Oct 02, 2015
I really liked Mr Trevors first week in the chair. He did at lot better than I hoped.
As mentioned in the post there is room for improvement but all-in-all I liked it.

Love the little giggle he does.

Also the other new team members did a great job.

It will not be the same as with Jon, and it shouldn't, but I have room in my TV-heart for a new host and team.
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Oct 03, 2015
Great point about his giggle! Nice touch.
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