Last night, South African comic Trevor Noah took the spot Jon Stewart once had as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, and the world was watching to see whether he would be a hit or a flop.
Stewart spent 16 years as the show’s host, helping it expand its audience and boost its ratings. He did his final show in August, and gave Noah, 31, his blessing as successor, according to reports.
Noah has built his own international following, boasting almost more than 2.5 million followers on Twitter alone, and was the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and on the Late Show with David Letterman.
“I’m having nightmares,” Noah told The Associated Press recently. “It’s terrifying, it really is. But it’s also extremely exciting. I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it.”
He recently tweeted about the show and “making history” with his first guest as host, mega-successful comedian and actor Kevin Hart:
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (me) launches tonight. Please join me and my first guest @KevinHart4real as we make history.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 28, 2015
Fans and watchers are looking forward to seeing what Noah brings to the table for the show, which offers political satire and makes bold statements on the issues of the day. Noah has faced controversy in the past for jokes that some thought were derogatory to women and Jews.
Viewers will also be watching to see how Noah will create his own legacy for the show and boost ratings.
“Noah represents the show’s best attempt to hedge against the future,” writes Vox culture editor Todd VanDerWerff. “If TV is dying and all networks are going to become brands, then all late-night shows are destined to wage the same war. And Noah is The Daily Show‘s strategic choice to survive that battle.”
Sophia A. McClennen, a professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, wrote for Salon: “One thing seems clear, Noah will emphasize his view as a global citizen and will take the role of a foreigner in the United States. In one promo he and his staff debated the correct pronunciation of “Zebra” – a move that reinforced the idea that they speak different “languages.” So despite Noah’s assurance in the promo that “it’s still ‘The Daily Show’ and nothing’s gonna change,” there is clear evidence that there is plenty of change to come.”
Noah and the team have also launched a renewed online initiative with the hiring of a separate online team, headed up by writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston. Plans for the future includes production of Web-only content and more use of platforms like Snapchat to gain insights from influencers, audience members, and journalists.