The Daily Show is really going to change when Trevor Noah takes over the Comedy Central series this fall. One big switch off the bat: Noah says he’ll focus less on Jon Stewart’s favorite source of outrage, Fox News.
“The Daily Show was based on an emerging 24 hour news cycle, that’s everything it was,” Noah told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour on Wednesday. “That’s what inspired The Daily Show. Now you look at news and it’s changed. It’s no longer predicated around 24 hour news. There are so many different choices. Half of it is online now. Now you’ve got the Gawkers, the BuzzFeeds. The way people are drawing their news is soundbites and headlines and click-bait links has changed everything. The biggest challenge is going to be an exciting one I’m sure is how are we going to bring all of that together looking at it from a bigger lens as opposed to just going after one source—which was historically Fox News.”
Here are more revelations from the panel:
— The set will change: “We’re changing the sets a tiny bit,” Noah said. “But we still want it to be recognized as The Daily Show.”
— The perspective will change: “We’re still dealing with the same issues, it’s just a different angle we’re looking at things from—and it’s my angle, really. I’m taking things in a slightly different direction, but to the same endpoint.” Noah then ran down the biographical differences between himself (describing himself as a 31-year-old half-black, half-white South African man who immigrated to the United States in 2011) and Stewart (as a 52-year-old Jewish man who grew up in New Jersey). “The way we look at the same story will be completely different,” he said. “We have different access to different jokes, different sides, different sensitivities … the most important thing is the place that you come from.”
— More mimicry: Noah speaks seven languages and is learning more, and impersonating accents is part of his stand-up act already. “I have an affinity for picking up on accents and tones,” he said. “But I don’t think somebody’s accent is inherently funny.” A reporter brought up how Stewart recently made headlines after a former writer from The Daily Show recounted a writer’s room arugment over Stewart’s Herman Cain impression, and wondered whether doing impressions of accents is really a wise idea. “The story wasn’t about the accent itself, the story was framed around an incident in the office,” Noah countered. “The incident with Herman Cain wasn’t a bad joke in particular.” Noah added that a writers room is supposed to be a place where creatives fight about content. “That’s the whole point of having a great writing team. You’re trying to find the best way to tell the best joke. What happened with Jon is exactly what the writers’ room is for. We hope to get to a point where we’re really passionate for our subject, because when we get the fight on screen we’ve already had the fight [behind the scenes].”
— About those tweets: Noah was asked about Twitter history that was slammed when as insensitive when he was announced as The Daily Show’s new host. “I don’t strive to be offensive,” he said. “But you can never control what people find is offensive or not. Any joke can be seen as offensive. When people get to know you, and when you know a person, you know the context of a joke. Luckily, Comedy Central hasn’t limited me to 140 characters on the show, so I should be able to [better articulate context].”
— About being chosen by Stewart: “The biggest pressure is living up to the expectations that Jon has for me,” he said. “Jon believes in me … for years we’ve been talking. I never dreamed I’d be sitting in this chair. I guess he knew something about me that I didn’t know at the time. There’s an immense pressure, personally. But it’s about the show first, it’s not about me.”
At the top of Noah’s panel, Comedy Central also revealed the show will retain Stewart’s five executive producers.