Little-know South African comic Trevor Noah has taken over at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with a salute to predecessor Jon Stewart.
Noah, who began Monday after Stewart stepped down after 16 years lampooning politics and the media, says he won’t try to make Stewart seem like “some crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid from Africa.”
He acknowledged to viewers that it must seem like dad has left and been replaced by a new stepdad, “and he’s black.”
After his intro, Noah quickly began riffing on the news – in this case Pope Francis’ just-concluded visit to the United States.
Stewart turned the show into television’s first stop for a lampoon of politics and the media during his 16 years as host. Tiring of the daily grind, he decided earlier this year to move on and did his final show in August.
Noah, 31, earned Stewart’s blessing as a successor. He inherited much of his predecessor’s backstage team and some of the show’s correspondents, a sign Comedy Central wants to keep the bones of “The Daily Show” intact as regular viewers get to know a new voice.
Noah has built a worldwide following and briefly contributed to Stewart’s show, but he understands his daunting task.
“I’m having nightmares,” Noah told The Associated Press recently. “It’s terrifying, it really is. But it’s also extremely exciting. I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it.”
Comedian Kevin Hart was Noah’s guest for his first show.
The debut continues a period of transition in the hotly competitive late-night television arena. Stewart’s former compatriot, Stephen Colbert, has moved to CBS to replace David Letterman. Jimmy Fallon, only a year and half into the job at NBC’s “Tonight” show, generally leads in the ratings. James Corden, Seth Meyers and Larry Wilmore also are new at their programs.
Late-night TV has also become a favored spot on the presidential campaign trail. Noah is diving right in, hosting GOP hopeful Chris Christie on Tuesday.
Next up are the women: Samantha Bee, former correspondent on “The Daily Show” begins her own “Full Frontal” on TBS in January and Chelsea Handler starts on Netflix sometime next year.