Yes, people are still mad at Trevor Noah. Noah was named Jon Stewart’s replacement host for The Daily Show last week – Noah is expected to take over the desk later this year. But Comedy Central’s big announcement has been significantly hobbled, first by Trevor Noah’s own social media history. Noah’s Twitter feed revealed him to be a somewhat painfully unfunny, misogynistic and shtick-y kind of comedian. Noah’s defense of his bad jokes – that they simply “didn’t land” – didn’t help matters. Jon Stewart tried to defend him earlier this week too, to mixed reviews (I think we can safely say that Stewart’s heart is no longer in the “giving voice to the unsaid” thing).
But all of that was just a precursor to the latest Trevor Noah controversy. A few comedians – one in particular – have come out, claiming that Noah is a joke thief. Canadian comedian Russell Peters did an interview this week where he claimed:
Trevor Noah is “also a thief…He’s stolen material from David Kau. He’s stolen material from myself. That’s like stealing somebody’s underwear and putting them on,” Peters said. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would you do that?”
Peters later said that his comments were simply a “prank,” but even the New York Times isn’t buying it. The NYT points out that hours after Peters said his comments were just jokes, David Kau posted back-to-back tweets showing an early set he (Kau) had done and a later set by Trevor Noah in which it does seem like Noah had “stolen” or “homage’d” Kau’s comedic set-up.
The NYT (and other outlets) also dug up a quote from Noah from 2013, in which he defended himself against charges that he’s a joke thief (because people have been accusing him of stealing jokes for YEARS). Noah said: “Nobody owns comedy, nobody owns a premise, nobody owns an idea.” Plenty of people own ideas though. That’s what copyrights are for. But is Trevor basically saying that it’s fine for him to steal jokes because haha, jokes are communal property?
Oh, and please read the NYT piece about this – go here to read. The basic gist is “Trevor Noah needs to respond to these criticisms with the kind of humor and deftness we’ve come to expect from Jon Stewart.” The subtext is “Trevor Noah is not up for this task.”