Williams confirmed that she wasn’t in the running early after Stewart revealed that he would retire from The Daily Show in 2015, and the latter two announced their respective departures soon after Stewart’s. Noah, 31, wasn’t even on the shortlist until this past weekend; he only joined The Daily Show in October, and his first appearance came in December.
Choosing Noah, a biracial comedian from South Africa, brings more diversity into the mostly white, male pool of late-night hosts (three of whom are named James). Many had hoped for a woman to take the Daily Show chair, however, prompting Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless to address the potential backlash it will receive for not going with a female host.
“We talked to women,” she told the New York Times. “We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”
“[Noah] brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful,” Ganeless added. “He’s truly a student of the world.”
Stewart also threw in his support for his successor. But he’s on hiatus this week, so we’ll have to wait until next Monday for the official Daily Show take.
“I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Stewart said in a statement, joking that he might rejoin the show as a correspondent. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.”
As for Noah? He’s currently doing a comedy tour in Dubai, so he’ll be away from the majority of the spotlight and attention that’ll come with the announcement, but that also means that one method of coping might not work so well.
“You don’t believe it for the first few hours,” Noah told the New York Times. “You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you’re in a place where you can’t really get alcohol.”
On Twitter, Noah expressed his respect for Stewart while vowing to continue what he built over the past 16 years.
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
Although we now have a successor, there’s still no official end date for Stewart’s run on The Daily Show. Until then, we’ll have plenty of time to get to know Noah even better.
Thank you president Obama pic.twitter.com/PgFJCCyRTa— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 30, 2015