South African comedian Trevor Noah has just been handed one of the biggest jobs in US comedy.
The 31-year-old stand-up, little-known in America or the UK, succeeds Jon Stewart as the new host of The Daily Show after only making his first appearance on the show as a contributor in December.
Noah will take over from Stewart when the anchor steps down later this year after 16 years in the job.
No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 30, 2015
So who is the man to replace him?
Regular viewers of Live at the Apollo might recognise Noah from his guest appearance with Eddie Izzard in November 2013. That night Izzard described him as “annoyingly good”.
The comic came on quietly, talking about growing up with a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father in apartheid-era South Africa: “I was born a crime.”
A year later, he made his first appearance as a contributor on The Daily Show. Like former stand-in host John Oliver – who now fronts Last Week Tonight – Noah joined The Daily Show without much of a profile. Stewart introduced him, saying “We’re always excited on the show to find new talented voices that can contribute to our programme.”
Noah didn’t hang around making himself comfortable – and the audience uncomfortable. “I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa,” he said. “It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home.”
He’s only been on the show three times, but show bosses were clearly convinced he was the right man for the job, with Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless telling the New York Times: “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”
Ms. Ganeless added: “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.”
Noah has made appearances on US TV before The Daily Show, including a spot on David Letterman in 2013.
He follows Late Late Show host James Corden as a relatively little-known comic who has to make a name for himself in one of the biggest jobs in entertainment – or news, depending on how you see The Daily Show.
At least he still has Stewart to turn to for advice. “He told me, ‘I was where you were when I took over the show,’” Noah told the New York Times. “‘Nobody knew me. I was just starting out, finding my voice, and that’s when I was handed this seat.’
“Now, it’s my turn to steer the ship.”