Trevor Noah will take the reins of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show on Monday, filling the still-warm seat vacated last month by Jon Stewart. For Noah, who was relatively unknown before the network named him Stewart’s successor, the gig offers him his biggest stage yet—and the opportunity to win over Stewart’s fans, many of whom are still working their way through the Five Stages of Grief.
But Noah’s Daily Show will not be served by comparisons to Stewart’s. Comedy Central, certainly, is courting the millennial crowd with the 31-year-old host, and his outsider status—Noah was born and raised in South Africa—stands to bring a new perspective to a show about American politics. Here’s what we can expect from Noah’s first show on Monday night—and from episodes to follow:
1) The Guests: Comedy Central announced that comedian Kevin Hart will appear on Noah’s first episode Monday night. On Tuesday, Noah will interview Whitney Wolfe, founder and CEO of the dating app Bumble, followed by New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Wednesday, and musical guest (and Taylor Swift fan) Ryan Adams on Thursday. If the first week’s crew is any indication of what’s to come, Noah will feature a carefully considered balance of prominent figures from the political, business and entertainment worlds.
2) The Set: Journalists at a press conference held by Noah on Friday tweeted pictures of his new set, which looks…not all that different from his predecessor’s. He’s got the expensive-looking wooden desk, the this-is-a-serious-news-show world map and monitors aplenty for skewering Fox News (and MSNBC, if he is to be an equal opportunity critic) in high-definition. If Noah’s Daily Show is going to differ greatly from Stewart’s, its distinctions won’t lie in the aesthetics.
3) The Fodder for Jokes: Much of Noah’s stand-up material, especially once he moved to the U.S. from South Africa, mined the humor in his difficult upbringing. Noah was born to a white father and a black mother in a country that outlawed racial intermarriage and grew up in a turbulent household with a violent stepfather. Though it’s not a childhood that seems to lend itself to comedy, Trevor learned to tell his life story through humor—as he recently told Jerry Seinfeld in an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, “Literally everything has a funny side.”
Given that the The Daily Show is by nature a show about the news, Noah’s focus will certainly veer away from the personal and toward the political—an area in which he’s already begun proving his chops. Having come to America as an adult, his outsider status has afforded him a unique perch from which to observe (and criticize) American social norms and political theater. One of the reasons Comedy Central hired him, according to president Michele Ganeless, is his ability to see American culture as someone who is not quite steeped in it: “He is a student of our culture,” she told GQ. “But he looks at it from a very different perspective.”
4) The Controversial Jokes: After Comedy Central announced that he would replace Stewart, Noah came under fire for jokes he made several years ago that many considered not only offensive to Jews and women, but also simply unfunny. Noah addressed the controversy, telling GQ that he was an “idiot” for making those jokes, and that he’s grown in the intervening years.
Still, it’s almost unimaginable that Noah will abandon the provocative sensibility that characterizes so much of his comedy. On The Late Show last week, he told fellow Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert that Stewart’s advice for him, going into the show, was to “trust your discomfort. If you feel uncomfortable, that’s the way you should be going.”
5) The Politics: For many liberals, Jon Stewart was a beacon of sanity and a sharp observer of the hypocrisy of conservatives—though he did admit to voting Republican (in 1988, for George H.W. Bush). The million-dollar question for Noah, of course, is his own political persuasion, and how it might inform the show. When asked about his politics at the press conference Friday, he avoided a direct response. “I want to point out both sides, just trying to find the truth of the matter,” he said, according to Deadline.
He accepted the description “progressive,” but not “political progressive,” and offered examples of more liberal views (he’s in favor of marriage equality) and more conservative leanings (he agrees with some of Rand Paul’s ideas about social security). Noah also stated that he wasn’t coming out of the gates with a ready list of scapegoats. (See: Jon Stewart, Fox News.) “I don’t have targets yet,” he said. “I get to forge my own relationships. I get to discover the people I know and loathe.”
6) The Trump Jokes: Many fans were surprised that Stewart would end his term just as election season was heating up. The show’s coverage of past elections, after all, won Stewart and his team a Peabody Award. For Noah, it’s a golden opportunity to recapture audiences whose feelings about the election are more validated by can-you-even-believe-this-nonsense comedy than by straight news coverage—and there is virtually no way he won’t accept the challenge.
Noah put his presidential humor into practice on The Late Show last week, offering an impression of the kind of evasive answers he observed at the most recent Republican debate. At the Entertainment Weekly Emmys party last week, he confirmed that he’s eagerly anticipating his platform as a fake election pundit. “I am approaching [election year] with glee,” he said, adding that the Trump jokes, for better or for worse, are far from over. “Donald Trump has made it even more pleasurable.”