I was pretty excited that Trevor Noah was chosen as the new host of The Daily Show because of his very uniquely global perspective on current events and obvious sense of humor. I was also pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t too much backlash over his not being a woman, even though we could still really use a woman in late-night. But realizing that an unexpected calm generally precedes an unwanted disaster, the afterglow of this monumental announcement faded in just about 24 hours when some idiot felt compelled to dig through years and years of Noah’s tweets to find something to get upset about.
What was found were some badly executed excuses for jokes. From 2011 and 2012. But since these “jokes” included mentions of religion and women, they were tarted up and called “anti-semitic,” “misogynistic,” and, of course, “problematic.”
Go fuck yourself, internet.
Trevor Noah is being held to a very high standard as the replacement for Jon Stewart, as he should be. And while the “jokes” he made sucked… actually, that’s all that I have to say about it. Those jokes sucked. They’re half-baked dudebro jokes — cheap, opportunistic, geared to the lowest common denominator. Comedians aren’t perfect, but we rarely see their very worst material. Nowadays, however, they’re trying out that crap material online as opposed to onstage. Do we really think that when Jon Stewart was doing standup in the ’80s and ’90s he was doing the Emmy-winning material he’s doing now? If you do, kindly get away from me immediately. You don’t deserve to read my fantastic internet writing. Begone.
Stewart is lucky that he never had to deal with today’s internet when he took over for Craig Kilborn. The internet was certainly around in 1999, but there were far fewer blogs, almost no social media, and very little fake outrage to garner pagviews. Just people saying, “I guess he was funny on MTV. Sure, I’ll watch this guy.”
But Trevor Noah isn’t so lucky. He had the audacity to be a rising comedian in his late twenties four years ago and try out some “edgy” material in front of an online audience. I’m guessing that his audience was not as big then as it is today. I’m guessing that he probably wishes those tweets weren’t still out there, but I’m also guessing that he forgot he ever wrote them in the first place. Because they’re fucking old.
What’s cracking me up the most is not just that bloggers are scouring every pixel of Trevor Noah’s virtual existence to find something “controversial,” but that they had to go back so far to find it. And then, when they write their thinkpiece, they admit that it’s probably not a big deal, but…
I don’t think that this proves Noah is a misogynistic [sic]. I think four sexist, gross Tweets from three or four years ago shouldn’t overshadow the rest of his career. And I think that we can learn a good deal about Noah once his inevitable apology is released. But I also understand why lots of female fans of The Daily Show might have felt like we just lost something.
Last I checked, I’m a female fan and I don’t really give a shit about ancient tweets.
The problem is not that Trevor Noah tells offensive jokes.… The problem is that Noah’s jokes are so annihilatingly stupid.…
But Comedy Central’s haste and lack of due diligence amid so much eminently qualified talent—your Jessica Williamses, your Aasif Mandvis, your however many other fresh-faced unknowns with unique perspectives—is a surefire way of alienating your audience. Almost as surefire as dismissing an entire swath of that audience with one thunderously idiotic tweet among many.
And, of course, Salon, which actually asked if Noah’s old tweets “killed The Daily Show“:
[D]o these tweets express genuinely racist and sexist sensibilities that we should be concerned about, or are they just bad jokes — a function of the digital-age comedian being forced to practice in public, with Twitter as his open mic? (All the comics I know arguably have bad, distasteful jokes from when they were starting out that they wouldn’t wanted aired as part of their “Daily Show” audition package). Is this PC culture going into overdrive, or is the deep-rooted ignorance and puerility expressed in some of these tweets a red flag for an (aspiring) political satirist? Deciding whether these tweets are truly offensive is a matter of taste, certainly — but isn’t not being funny enough of a crime here?
However you traverse these complex issues, it’s a messy situation that makes Noah look amateur and Comedy Central look naive, at best.
I like how these bloggers try to not be outraged and then end up being outraged anyway because they cannot fucking help themselves. Because what they don’t realize is that they are the screaming crowd from Monty Python and the Holy Grail who wanted to see a witch burned at the stake but there were no witches to be found, so they dressed a random woman up as one. They were proven to be imbeciles and the joke was on them.
Seriously, the internet’s official slogan should be “She turned me into a newt!”