Ah, “The Daily Show.” The show that proved a program on Comedy Central could provide more insightful commentary on current events than many news outlets could. For over 16 years, John Stewart hosted the show to great laughter and critical fanfare (not to mention
23 Emmy awards). However, Stewart stepped down from his office-chair throne in August 2015 and announced a new ruler: Trevor Noah. Now that we have a couple of months of Noah’s hosting to look over, I think it’s time for a little comparison of the old with the new.
But, writing a detailed critique of Noah and his hosting style would miss the most important fact about the transition. The fact is that “The Daily Show” is very similar to how the program was with Jon Stewart hosting. This is not to say that the two men, Stewart and Noah, are interchangeable or have the same style. Noah is more reserved and smooth than Stewart (or at least he presents a convincing facade) while Stewart wears outrage and manic passion on his sleeve, a passion I’ve always believed in. But Noah seems to fit into the familiar “Daily Show” format a little too smoothly, with not enough change to feel like his show is a new one.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction to change; Noah is genuinely funny many times, and occasionally hilarious. But the basic structure of the program, a series of clips on contemporary events and lightning-fast hit-or-miss responses to those clips, remains the same with Noah at the helm instead of Stewart. The particular element of running a clip for a time before abruptly cutting back to the talk show feels most similar to the Stewart era. Beat for beat, their have not been many changes to the show’s structure.
Noah has his own style, distinct from Stewart’s, but he still can’t help but ham up jokes that hit home and occasionally bring the house down with particularly cutting comments. Noah is intelligent, sharp, composed and comfortable with his new role as host. And it’s a little too early to make sweeping statements about his future on the show, regardless of popular opinion that the show is headed downhill.
My only standalone complaint is that Noah’s political alignment perfectly overlaps with Stewart’s; can’t we have a little variety, not just in style but in opinion? Again, I don’t really feel comfortable standing behind these critiques fully, because Noah has only had less than a year to allow fans to readjust. But I hope he develops a depth of commentary fully his own over the next years.
All of this is to say Noah has a good chance of keeping “The Daily Show” up to its old standards. But call it ingrained loyalty or a hatred of change; I personally just don’t think the guy is as funny as Stewart is. Big shoes to fill, I know, but unlike the audience of The Daily Show, we don’t have to clap when they tell us to.