UPDATE: Comedy Central announced Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show on March 30, 2015.
ORIGINAL POST: As we move closer to Jon Stewart’s exit from the anchor’s chair on The Daily Show, a new frontrunner has apparently emerged to take his place. According to a report in Variety, newbie Daily Show correspondent Trevor Noah tops the short list to take the position that Stewart has held for the past 16 years.
Noah has been a member of the Daily Show team since December 2014, when he came on as a correspondent. So far, his contributions have been relatively limited: His first appearance was on December 4, when he riffed on Ebola with Stewart and played a very entertaining game called “Spot the Africa.” He next showed up on January 22, for a report on Boko Haram that once again poked fun at the United States’ lack of commitment to fighting terrorism in Africa. He last appeared on the show on March 19, when he and Stewart played chess.
Those clips make it a little tough to judge just how Noah would fit into the anchor’s chair, as they all come across as somewhat stilted. Still, Noah has quite a bit of experience that stretches beyond his Daily Show work. He’s something of a superstar in South Africa, regularly selling out giant theaters for stand-up shows and scoring big numbers for his televised specials. Much of his material—especially his 2013 concert special Trevor Noah: African American—riffs on his mixed-race heritage and the various race-related encounters he has had both in his home country and here in the United States. He’s obviously no stranger to politics, and his stand-up contains a solid balance between understatement and outrage—much like Stewart himself.
Still, Noah’s possible ascension wouldn’t do much to assuage worries about an already fraught situation with Comedy Central’s biggest franchise. Since Stewart announced his exit from The Daily Show, potential replacements have slowly been checked off the list. Two of the most likely candidates, John Oliver and Larry Wilmore, had already left for their own shows (Last Week Tonight With John Oliver and Wilmore’s The Nightly Show, which took the time slot vacated by Stephen Colbert). Jessica Williams came out and declared herself “extremely under-qualified” for the gig, and husband-wife team Jason Jones and Samantha Bee are both headed for TBS. (Jones just had his last turn on The Daily Show on Thursday.) That left only a handful of names who are still associated with The Daily Show, including Noah, fellow rookie correspondents Jordan Klepper and Hasan Minhaj, as well as longtime contributor Kristen Schaal (whose other TV commitments, including Bob’s Burgers and Last Man on Earth, would certainly preclude her from hosting).