Trevor Noah Warns Potential Successors That His Job's Pretty Hard

Noah told his correspondents that they'll have to read the news every day if they want to be the host.
Trevor Noah Warns Potential Successors That His Job's Pretty Hard

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah is set to leave the desk he’s sat for seven seasons on December 8, opening the door for a new bright star to assume the mantle once made great by Jon Stewart. The list of candidates for Noah’s successor is rumored to include a number of the show’s current and former correspondents, as well as outsiders Chris Rock, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, and Louis C.K.

Following Noah’s finale on December 8, The Daily Show will take a hiatus for the remainder of the year before returning in January with a rotating cast of prospective hosts in rapid-fire auditions. In a profile for The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, Noah revealed that he has taken the time to sit down with each of his correspondents to tell them exactly what the job of Daily Show host entails behind the scenes, commenting that, “I wish someone had told me what a grind it was.”

Who would have thought that hosting 140 episodes of a late night show every year would be work?

Noah explained that the behind-the-scenes work of the Daily Show host requires much more time and energy than sitting behind a desk and reading cue cards, saying, “You’re also running the show, so everything from HR to designing the set, you’re a part of, and it doesn’t stop when you leave the building.”

The biggest part of the job, which has been fashioned by its more romantic viewers as the official voice of speaking truth to power through comedy, was staying abreast of every breaking news story and political talking point that was being hawked that week by whichever blowhard mouthpiece of the pigheaded powers that be. Said Noah, “There’s no moment when breaking news happens where I go, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t care.’ No, I have to care; being informed is part of my job.” 

This demand of the role is at the crux of much of the criticism that Noah has received from longtime fans of the show who felt that Noah was an odd choice to follow up the 16-year reign of Jon Stewart, whose deep passion for the issues and righteous anger in the face of injustice turned The Daily Show into an institution. When Noah was first offered a spot as an international correspondent on the program in 2013, he turned it down, as he was neither familiar with the show nor interested in putting his stand-up career on hold to talk politics for a living.

Eventually, Noah took the correspondent job. Then, less than a year later, Noah was hosting the whole show, and a rocky first season saw viewership drop 37% from his predecessor. Some critics complained that Noah wasn’t a natural fit, and that he struggled to find the incisive and entertaining perspective on the world’s most serious news stories that made The Daily Show a success.

Though Noah grew into the role and won an audience of his own with his cleverness and charisma, the world of politics and breaking news could never hold his focus the way his stand-up career and his other creative ventures could. The decision to split from The Daily Show was born from a conversation with Paramount executives Chris McCarthy and Keyes Hill-Edgar, wherein Noah realized that neither he nor his higher-ups would be able to find a balance that would allow Noah to focus on his stand-up career, move into film, write his second book, and also host 100+ episodes of The Daily Show every year. 

Now, as Paramount carefully picks Noah’s replacement, the South African comic is warning his friends and correspondents that they’re going to have to read the news every day if they want to be the host of The Daily Show. For all of Noah’s talents, topicality and political insight have never been high on the list, as opposed to Roy Wood Jr., Noah’s longtime friend and colleague, whose passion and fury when it comes to politics have never been understated. Though Wood has been a popular name in the rumor mill, he claims that he won’t try to predict the future while Noah is still in the chair. Said Wood, “It’s too overwhelming … and I don’t want to have that on my mind.”

At the end of tenure, Noah says he’s not sure if, given the opportunity to do it all again, he would go back and take the job as Daily Show host, though he’s happy to have had the experience. Said Noah, “I am glad that I did it. It’s like, would I go bungee jumping again? I don’t know, but I’m glad I did that, too.”

Maybe the next host will like bungee jumping and reading the news.

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