“Processing Donald Trump is something that’s easier” for “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah because that kind of authoritarian leadership style was already familiar to the South African comedian. “This presidency has gone exactly as I expected it to go … Donald Trump reminds me in many ways of many African dictators … Anyone who comes from a developing nation is all too familiar with a leader like him.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Noah above.
Because Trump also has such a “simplistic” understanding of the world his presidency has also had the side effect of bringing politics “to a level that every single person on the ground seems to understand.” Trump has reduced politics to fit the 280-character Twitter era, so “The Daily Show” is well suited to cover him “because now we are dealing with politics that has become pop culture.”
Comedy in general is a “powerful tool” for covering the Trump era. It’s “fantastic for processing information that is otherwise terrifying,” Noah explains. And it has the unique ability to speak truth to power at such an irregular time for American government. “I don’t think it’s any mistake that in most countries where free speech is eliminated and where dictatorships are set up the one thing that is eliminated very quickly is comedy or satire. That’s because it reminds populations of the follies.”
Just as Trump has harnessed the power of social media for his own benefit, “The Daily Show” has also established a significant digital footprint, though Noah hopes the show brings more “positivity into the world” than the commander-in-tweet. Part of that digital outreach is “Between the Scenes,” a web series in which Noah interacts with the “Daily Show” audience during the commercial breaks. It “continues the conversation in a less formal way” and also “gives people access to me in a slightly different manner, which is really important when you’re building a relationship with people.” It won Noah an Emmy for Best Short Form Variety Series in 2017.
And audiences will soon get to see Noah in yet another manner: his autobiography “Born a Crime” is being adapted into a film starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as his mother. “I think it’s going to be a really beautiful experience,” says Noah. “Having a journey lived and then written and then acted out is something that is unique and one that I don’t take for granted at all, so I’m excited to see how we can translate the story onto the big screen.”
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