Trevor Noah: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

So is Trevor Noah making the grade as host of “The Daily Show” or not? Six months after taking over from Jon Stewart, the jury, as they say in the US, is out. While a recent segment has got more than 600,000 views on Youtube in just over a week – about Donald Trump – a major US critic has said Noah is a lightweight.

It’s not the first time that Noah has drawn the cheers and the jeers. In the recent article on salon.com, critic Scott Timberg has some nice things to say about Noah too, but mostly that he still has a lot to learn, especially when compared to other late-night talk show hosts like the superb British John Oliver.

The argument against Trevor Noah

  • He laughs too much at his own jokes
  • He tends to be silly sometimes
  • He can’t be earnest
  • He tries to push a joke too far, when it’s stopped being funny
  • He tries to sound American
  • He struggles to balance funny with serious
  • He’s not as on-point as his competitors like Oliver and Larry Wilmoe and Samantha Bee

The argument for Trevor Noah

  • He can laugh at himself
  • He’s funny, smart and likable (Watch his classic about Donald Trump as an African dictator)
  • He sounds American enough without losing his South African accent
  • He has brought Africa to the world’s attention a bit more
  • Even Timberg admits, “Noah will put on a better show, one that plays to his own strengths and that grows from the tradition Jon Stewart established, if he takes this a little more seriously.”
  • And actually, he can be serious. (On Wednesday, two days after the first Salon article, Salon’s TV critic sort of praised Noah, in an article titled “Trevor Noah’s moment of Zen: ‘The Daily Show’ host gets serious about Brussels”. She noted his seriousness over the Brussels terrorist bombings, and the fact that he had made the point that there had also been bombings in Turkey that the media hadn’t given as much attention to.)

A Noah show from last week: 600,000 views and counting.