Comedian Trevor Noah has been named Jon Stewart’s Daily Show successor. The 31-year-old, biracial South African – who previously contributed several on-air series appearances – revealed the news in an interview with The New York Times. “You don’t believe it for the first few hours,” he told the publication of learning about the new job. “You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.”
Noah – the son of a black mother and white father – was raised in Soweto, an urban area of Johannesburg, during the turbulent era of apartheid. The comedian, who speaks six languages, performed across the U.S. between 2010 and 2012 – earning a fan in Stewart, who recruited him for the series.
“I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Stewart said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with. [I] may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”
Stewart, who has hosted the satirical current events comedy for 16 years, announced his plans to depart The Daily Show during a taping on February 10th. Neither he nor Comedy Central have confirmed a concrete timetable for his exit.
Upon learning the news, the network immediately made a “shortlist” of successor candidates. “Trevor checked off every box on that list and then some,” said Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless. “He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful. He’s truly a student of the world.”
The New York Times notes that Noah is a somewhat odd choice, given his lack of experience. The hire could also draw criticism for the network not hiring a female in an age of male-dominated late-night hosts. But Ganeless is adamant that talent and vision – more than gender or visibility – was Noah’s selling point.
“We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.” she said. “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.” Stewart reportedly served as a “consigliere” during the hiring process.
One popular hosting candidate among fans was longtime Daily Show contributor Samantha Bee, who recently announced her departure from the show to begin work on two new series: one scripted comedy and one satirical current events program, the latter co-executive produced by husband Jason Jones, who also revealed his Daily Show departure last month.
Ganeless wouldn’t comment on other names considered for the position. She noted that conversations involving Noah’s staff had not begun while emphasizing that the comedian “respects and admires the team there that has built the institution.”
“What I want to see there is the next iteration of this idea,” Stewart told Catie Lazarus last month during an installment of the Employee of the Month podcast. “You can only go so far with four facial expressions and five-to-seven curse words. There are so many iterations of that, that you can do, before people just go hmm. I would love to see the next iteration of that. John Oliver was able to apply our process to a more considered thing and it’s exciting to watch it evolved, to see it mutate and change and fill different gaps and different ideas. That’s the part I’m looking forward to seeing.”