Trevor Noah is one weekday away from debuting his new Daily Show, complete with a revamped set. And in a Q&A with reporters on Friday morning, he offered a preview of what viewers can expect — and also offered his thoughts on a wide range of issues, from Ryan Adams’ Taylor Swift cover album to the very recent news of Speaker John Boehner’s resignation.
During the session, Noah explained the decision-making process that went into crafting the show’s first week of guests, which includes Kevin Hart, Chris Christie, and Ryan Adams. “Every single guest is there for a reason,” Noah said. As for the choice to have Hart as his first one? “It’s a comedy show first and foremost. Kevin Hart is also, for myself, a comedian who’s broken many boundaries — boundaries of color. He’s now gone into a world where he was the ‘the best black comedian,’ and now he’s just Kevin Hart.’”
“And Ryan Adams, I think was a beautiful mix of many different worlds of music,” Noah went on. “He comes from … I wouldn’t say an extreme underground world, but he’s not an ultimate pop star, let’s say. But he’s a great musician loved by many different people. And then he took Taylor Swift and [went] and remade that to much acclaim, and exceptionally well. And I really appreciated that. I loved what he was doing. And as a team, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic to get someone like that on?’ Because he’s done in essence what we’ve done here, in that he’s taken something that was loved by many — cherished by many — and he’s created a new version of it for himself, and people have gone, ‘Wow, this is actually amazing.’ We can still like Taylor Swift, but we can also like Ryan Adams’ 1989.”How The Daily Show will change
When asked whether having Ryan Adams perform during the first week was an indication that there’d be more music on the show than before, Noah answered affirmatively: “Yes, we’re definitely going to be going for more music. It’s something I enjoy to break with at the end of the week. And one of the big differences, really, is that we’re going to have more music. And the styles of interviews, and the people that I’ll be talking to: those are all personal choices we get to evolve now.”
Will the segments and structure of Noah’s Daily Show adhere to Jon Stewart’s version? “I think what you’re going to see is a big difference in the style as opposed to a changing up of the actual structure of the show. I look at The Daily Show as a beautiful house that I’ve inherited, and that I’m going to walk into. I’m not going to break the house down and then start trying to build a house from there. This is a beautiful house that’s been here for many years, it’s a landmark. And so what I’ll do is try to create it into the home of my dreams using my new family.”
Noah also mischievously added, “But you’ll know that there’s a new person living in the house, because you’ll be complaining about the noise. But I don’t plan to break anything initially.”
Unlike focusing heavily on the cable news industrial complex as Stewart often did, Noah promised to spin his source material forward a little bit. “What we do is look at a wider berth of materials now,” he explained. “So our go-to source is no longer dictated by a small group of cable outlets. So what that means is we have to expand our view, because sometimes a story is made and breaks on Twitter. So we have to find a way to react to that. There’s news that happens in different spheres that is just as interesting, can be made just as funny, but it isn’t in the normal news medium. So that’s something we’re definitely looking at and finding ways to explore every day.”On John Boehner, the GOP, and the collective indulgence of Donald Trump
Interestingly, he got taste of just that during the Q&A: When news broke that Speaker John Boehner was resigning from Congress — and upon hearing about it for the first time, Noah was quick to react. “Aw, this is sad! That’s sad, I liked him. He always cried!”
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Noah also offered his thoughts on the recent Republican debates and the presidential race, which, of course, he’s been following closely. He noted that as an outsider, he’s “coming in with a clean slate” and very few hardened biases. “Myself and Steve [Bodow, Daily Show producer] were watching the debate together, and I was complimenting every single thing that Rand Paul said. Rand Paul says something, and I said, ‘That sounds great!’ And Steve was like, ‘Just you wait! He’s going to break your heart.’ And I said, ‘Well, then, let that happen. Let my heart get broken.’ I want to be in the position where I get to start over fresh with some of these people and try something new.”
“I’m not afraid to say I don’t know,” Noah continued. “I don’t know everything. Jon didn’t everything – it took him 16 years to get where he is. But the fun part is the learning. I think sometimes transferring that learning into a TV show and giving that to the audience is fantastic. It’s like with a little child: They learn new things, and you get to relearn it with them and go, ‘Oh, yeah, that is a strange thing. Why do we spell words like that? Why do we say things like this? Why is the world like this?'”
His observations from the Republican field so far? “I’d love to have Ben Carson on. I feel like that would be a very energetic interview! And Donald Trump is an interesting one, because the truth of the matter is that he doesn’t say much, and really what we’re doing is enjoying the spectacle of it all. We’re indulging in it. At some point, our indulgence may come back to bite us. But we’ll see — obviously Donald Trump is welcome on the show, and I’d love to have him on. But the question I would ask myself and my team is, ‘What do we aim to achieve from this? Is it just for entertainment or are we really trying to get answers?'”Noah’s comedic influences and his understanding of American culture
Toward the end of the Q&A, Noah revealed some of his other comedic influences aside from Jon Stewart. “Dave Chappelle is probably my favorite comedian, just because of the way he broaches his topics. I’ve always enjoyed his lackadaisical approach. He’s somebody who doesn’t seem vexed by what he’s saying, because I think he understands he’s trying to elicit a response, or one that makes people think.”
And if you’re wondering, Noah said that he thinks he’ll have no problem relating to the peculiarities of American culture. “I found [while] traveling around the world, America was the one place I innately understood what was happening because South Africa and the United States of America have a very similar history,” he said. “Different timelines, but you know, the directions we’ve taken and the consequences and then dealing with the aftermath of what we then think is the beginning of democracy – and then realizing that that’s just the first step. Freedom is the beginning of the conversation. That’s the great thing for me – I’m not now trying to understand what segregation is. I’m not trying to understand what institutionalized racism is. I’m not trying to understand that.”