Trevor Noah has been accused of stealing jokes for years, apparently

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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?”

[From CBC]

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.”

Snow in New York. I just wanted to inform you. #Informa #DetectiveMan #SnowMeYakoBlame #AlikiBomBomDown #ImAnIdiot

A photo posted by Trevor Noah (@trevornoah) on

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56 Responses to “Trevor Noah has been accused of stealing jokes for years, apparently”

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  1. jenn12 says:

    Dude is really hot, and I’d bet he’s been able to use that for years. If all he can come up with on his own is the sexist and anti-Semitic crap he’s been posting, then I get why he’s stealing from other comedians. With everything being filmed and posted on social media, I’m more puzzled why he thought he’d get away with it. And why, having had a genius like Jon Stewart, the show did not seem to try hard to find someone else of that caliber.

    • Boopybette says:

      See, this is what I want to know. The Daily Show in terms of the body politic in the is country as well as satire and comedy has been sooo culturally important and influential. I would have thought they would have made at least an attempt to fill Stewart’s shoes…preferably with an American comic. Jessica and Larry from the Daily show as well as John Fugelsang would have been brilliant choices.

      To me, it seems they want to ensure that no one on cable and in comedy ever holds as much sway as Jon Stewart again. So they get a so-so uninspired ‘comedian’ who’s not political and who’s not american and won’t care anything about the social injustices in this country.

      I’ve heard Noah’s shtick and he can’t relate as an american, he can’t relate as a black American )he said onstage he’s not considered himself “black.” (And went on to stereotype American blacks in his bit) and he’s not funny.

      So i ask you what’s he good for?

      This just seems like such an obvious ploy to nullify the reach of the daily show in the lead up to the elections in 2016.

      • Snipy says:

        Wow. This is an excellent POV. And scary.

      • The Other Pinky says:

        John Oliver isn’t American and he is KILLING it on HBO.

      • littlestar says:

        Yeah, John Oliver isn’t American and he does an incredible job dissecting American social injustices. Oliver is extremely intelligent.

      • Jay says:

        While I agree with most of that I don’t think being American is necessary. John Oliver and to a lesser extent Jason Jones did fine.

      • Maria A. says:

        Fogelsang would have been awesome in every sense of the word!

      • Stoned Housewife says:

        I also think this is the case @Boopybette!

      • Boopybette says:

        To the other pinky. John Oliver had been a part of The Daily show and was already in the mold of a Stewart or Colbert from the start – he did the same kind of pseudo serious political satire and skewering of the American body politic and media status quo.

        The argument I give isn’t to tell people that a person who is not American born can’t be singularly focused on American politics and social commentary that affects Americans…..obviously they can if they live in the US, and have written and starred with the most famous American satirist this side of mark Twain and are talented themselves. Oliver fits that bill…it was a no brainer giving him a show. At the time in his pseudo reporter role on the TDS, he also represented the new trend of mainstream media employing a brit on the newscast for gravitas….he fit perfectly. ..his new show is in the same mold as TDS.

        My point was not to argue that a brit or aussie can’t do it – but WHY NOT and American?? Why not someone who is similar to American Jon Stewart on an American program discussing American culture and social issues.

    • JB says:

      I was thinking the exact same thing! So good looking and no doubt aware of how much he can get away with on that merit alone.

    • Kara says:

      never trust a handsome comedian

    • vanna says:

      I guess I am one of the few people who don’t find him hot. To me his face screams douche. Not looking forward for his turn on TDS…Why not Aasif?

  2. Lori says:

    I love Russell Peters.

  3. Jaygee says:

    Looking forward to absolutely never watching the Trevor Noah Daily Show.

  4. Talie says:

    Jon and Comedy Central underestimated how much the people would vet the person who ended up getting this job.

    • OhDear says:

      I’m surprised that Comedy Central didn’t vet him more before he was hired/gave him the offer.

    • mia girl says:

      IKR. It’s actually ironic.

      One of the things I most enjoy about TDS is how well they take-apart other BS. And yet, they didn’t seem to properly vet Noah or think others would.

    • lisa says:

      he’s the sarah palin of tv comedy!

  5. Illtakeapinotgrigio says:

    “Nobody owns comedy, nobody owns a premise, nobody owns an idea.”

    …AAAAAAAAND you, Trevor Noah, don’t own any respect. What a turd-waffle.

  6. maybeiamcrazy says:

    That is a serious allegation. I am South African, I have been to one of his shows. It was funny but nothing special. I found the outrage over his tweets unnecessarily harsh but stealing jokes is not forgivable.

    • BangersandMash says:

      I’m South African too, and I can tell you right now.

      David Kau is NOT LYING!!! I’m glad that he has the premise to tell the truth.

      Kau (who was a household name LOOONNG before Noah, and deserve all and any credit given too him for his comedic prowess) has been stolen from for years.

      Having said that…. Trevor doesn’t need to be funny, he doesn’t need to be “a great comedian”. He’s lucky enough to a job where he has DROVES AND DROVES AND LEGIONS of writers who will make him funny, he just needs to bring that wit and magic and be a great talk show host!!! That’s the challenge!!!

  7. Apple Tart says:

    I can understand why the older comics are so pissed at Trevor. He shot right out of the box on the comedy circuit to fame without really trying. That doesn’t sit well with the old guard. They feel you need to hone your skills for decades. They feel he got too much too soon. But he is the right age and the right time to take over. He is funny, he is hot and does political humor. Personally I had hoped the married duo Jason Jones and Samantha Bee would of taken over. But I look forward to Trevor on the show and see how he runs with it like Jon did.

    I think most people know that comedians are not generally supportive of each other and love to tear each other down. For the most part I think Trevor has handled it all pretty well.

    • HH says:

      What you’re saying may be some part of the truth, but stealing comedic material (or ideas) is a serious allegation. It has nothing to do with old guard vs new guard, training, working your way up, etc. If you’re being lauded for ideas that aren’t yours, that needs to be dealt with.

  8. Disappointing says:

    What a FAIL on the part of Jon Stewart. Very disappointing.

    • Boopybette says:

      Wait a a second….are you saying Jon Stewart is responsible for this travesty? How so?

      • kibbles says:

        I don’t know what the criteria was or who made the ultimate decision to hire Noah, but I would hope that Jon Stewart had a large say in who would be his successor. Maybe Stewart really doesn’t care anymore about the future of the show, or it was ultimately the big wigs at Comedy Central who made the decision, but you would think that Stewart would be part of the team to pick the next Daily Show host. If Stewart really did play a large role in choosing Noah then he made a mistake.

      • jaygee says:

        I feel like the decision was made to choose someone handsome and fratty to replace JS, rather than picking someone who has actual chops and likeability. I don’t know if JS had any say in his successor, however.

      • imqrious2 says:

        He is an Executive Producer of the show and has BIG SAY on content and on-air personalities.

  9. FingerBinger says:

    Comedians are always accusing other comedians of stealing jokes. This is a non story.

  10. Sknniemama says:

    What a hack. i predict… More room on my dvr in the future. Samantha Bee would have been a kick ass host. I don’t even find Trevor Noahs current bits on the show to be all that funny.

  11. Santia says:

    Wow, so now there is an orchestrated take down of Trevor Noah. Good to know …

  12. Kitten says:

    Yeah…Jon Stewart he is NOT.

  13. Sam says:

    Didn’t joke stealing basically end the career of Carlos Mencia, if I recall correctly? I get that joke-stealing is iffy, because, let’s face it, there’s only so much material in the world. But the NYT piece pointed out that it seems like he basically lifted an entire joke, almost verbatim, from David Kau. That’s not “stealing” so much, methinks, as it’s just plagiarism. Straight up.

    • FLORC says:

      Pretty much.
      And he was failing to appeal to a wider demongraphic.

    • ursfb says:

      But joke stealing didn’t kill Robin Williams’ career- he was NOTORIOUS for it (some thought that perhaps he was so blatant about it because of the drugs?). I’m still going to watch Trevor Noah- I wasn’t sure if Larry W could carry a whole show & I enjoy his show- no one can top Colbert, but Larry is smart & likeable. I liked Trevor’s standup on Netflix & his material seemed really personal, so that would be hard to steal. I saw the documentary special from 2009/2010 (also on Netflix) where he helping other comedians write their material, so some SA comedians seem to like & appreciate him. It will also be nice to have someone younger & with a more worldly view- I will miss Jon, but he seems ready to go. Jessica W said that she didn’t want the job & Sam, Aasif & jason already had gigs that would prevent them from doing it- I know Aasif & Sam have been doing TDS part time for a while now- Aasif said he & Sam will continue to do part time stuff there.

      • Kara says:

        Williams had his own engergy that most comedians dont have, that helped him. but his huge drama skills obviously helped him the most. he was simply also a very good actor.

  14. K says:

    I doubt that Stewart had a hand in selecting Noah. Sounds like this is Viacom’s fault.

    • Xiufetish says:

      As imqrious2 indicated above, Jon is an Executive Producer of the show. His opinion would have been critical.

  15. FLORC says:

    Stand up Comedians have spoken at length about others stealing jokes. That it’s like art. They created something original, but maybe being inspired by something else. When a comedian repeats a joke nearly word for word with built in duplicate timing it’s suspect.

    The way Noah is handling this is awful. He needs to address it in full and sincerely.

  16. MediaMaven says:

    Let’s remember than TDS has a small army of writers who craft everything on the show. Trevor will have that backing, as well. Jon, to his credit, contributes to that writing, but where he excels is in his ability to DELIVER that writing……..and that, in itself, is a true artform and will be tough to follow.

    • FLORC says:

      Stewart had that gift. He could go off script. He could speak of a topic that was tough to dicuss, but keep it light and cwith humor, but still serious.
      TDS writers can be flawless at their job but if the delivery is off everything fails.

      That Noah already isn’t handling this with much humility or humor is not promising.

    • Maria A. says:

      Stewart brought sincerity and even gravitas to the job when it needed it. This new guy had better have the chops or he won’t last long.

  17. Villagers says:

    Trevor Noah was selected for his good looks and his ethnic background – no shade there, as White performers have been selected based on their looks and ethnic background for generations. It would have actually been a fine thing if he had been up to the job. But I don’t get the sense that he is. Where are all his witty comebacks to the recent disclosures? Why doesn’t he say something sharp and snappy that will make the critics ashamed? Maybe because he can’t. A Ken doll is just a Ken doll, no matter which color of plastic is used.

    • PennyLane says:

      “A Ken doll is just a Ken doll, no matter which color of plastic is used.”

      LOL! So true…

      I wonder if possibly the producers were having trouble finding a more senior comedian who was willing to step into Jon Stewart’s shoes? Being the next Daily Show host is going to be a tough gig to handle – there are a lot more ways to mess it up than there are to succeed at it, as Ken doll is now showing.

  18. JH says:

    This guy has zero charm. He comes across as a snobby frat boy. I am sad that he is “replacing” Jon Stewart. RIP TDS.

    • Apple Tart says:

      He never went to College his mother didn’t have the money to send him and wanted him to pay for half. He worked as a taxi driver in South Africa until 2009 when he got into stand up. He is as far as a frat boy as it gets.

  19. K says:

    Nope, no one can own an idea. Copyright protects only the way you “fix” the idea-i.e. the form in which the idea is expressed.

  20. Bea says:

    I think he’s crazy hot like way beyond 10/10 would bang. I would put a ring on that hotness => therefore he must be an asshole. I buy what the other guys are selling. Trust my track record.

  21. Wifey says:

    Get over yourselves America. You scalded South Africa for Apartheid, you adore the idea of Nelson Mandela (even though most of you have NO clue who he was or what he did) and now there is a chance for an South African, who actually deserves it – go read about the cr@p surrounding inter racial relationships at the time Trevor was born. – to have his slice of the ‘American Dream’ pie, and you judge and loathe this man because he is not American. Trevor Noah is a symbol of change and acceptance in SA because of his ‘no holds barred’ humour. America has bigger issues to sort out than a coloured from South Africa hosting a television show…..
    First world problems. Lucky you…

    • wow says:

      “A coloured” wow dear. Nobody loathes him. He just isn’t good enough.
      Lucky us indeed! I love being the land of YOUR dreams :) )

  22. Amy says:

    I wish Tina Fey or Amy Poehler had been considered. I realize with young kids now they might not have wanted to do a five night a week show (or is it just four??) but I loved their Weekend Update on SNL. Maybe they’re both not a good fit for Comedy Central? Dunno. I guess having an unknown take over is a better strategy but it would have been cool to bring on an already established female comedian.

  23. Kar says:

    Technically, you cannot copyright an idea! You hold copyright over a particular expression of an idea, but ideas are in the public domain, and a comedic performance involving a script and stuff would fall under classic copyright (well, in the UK at least, probably a bit different in the US). But this just seems straight up shady and rude, and lazy on his part as a performer.