Trevor Noah paid homage to what made The Daily Show great while trying to forge a new path as he finally took up the mantle in a semi-awkward first episode that felt more like the old Daily Show than we had expected.
It’s been nearly two months since Jon Stewart took his final bow, and Noah has quite the seat to fill. Unlike Stephen Colbert, who only had to introduce us to “the real him,” Noah had an arguably harder task of not only introducing us to himself but also easing us into this Stewart-less era. Stewart may not have been the first host of The Daily Show, but for many of its fans, he was the face of it.
Noah quickly took on a self-deprecating tone as he praised Stewart and acknowledged the elephant in the room.
“Jon Stewart was more than just a late-night host,” Noah said. “He was often our voice, our refuge, and in many ways our political dad, and it’s weird because Dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new stepdad—and he’s black.”
But it wasn’t just the Stewart elephant he addressed. It was also the question of why a woman wasn’t hosting The Daily Show—or even an American. The answer: They didn’t want it.
From there, Noah dove right into Pope-mania and House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation, offering jokes that landed more often than not, including his first dick joke in the first five minutes of the show. The fact that the live audience was onboard had to have been reassuring for him.
The Boehner report brought in correspondent Jordan Klepper, a familiar face to Stewart’s audience, who went on an impassioned rant about how Boehner was irreplaceable that doubled as an ode to Stewart.
Noah, as part of his new hosting job, has already begun to diversify the staff, and it showed within his first episode. Roy Wood, Jr., one of the new Daily Show correspondents, came out to talk about the discovery of liquid water on Mars. Wood is already coming into his own, expertly demonstrating how, while humans might end up on Mars one day, it’ll be even longer before people like him and Noah get there.
It will take some time for Noah to grow into the role and step out of Stewart’s shadow. He’s got some of Stewart’s writers, so the show will have a similar style. His first show wasn’t a home run, but as he has time to experiment with the format and the comedy and politics involved, he may create something just as excellent as the old show we remember.
Screengrab via Comedy Central/YouTube