Trevor Noah: ‘I’d always thought of women as the stronger & more powerful sex’


Trevor Noah has a lengthy feature in the September issue of Vogue – you can read the full piece here. While it’s looking like Beyonce managed to get the September cover without giving up an interview, Trevor is not in the same position. He still has to hustle and he knows it’s an uphill battle to convince people that he’s worthy of hosting The Daily Show. The internet consensus these days is that people are going to give Noah a chance for several months, a certain grace period, but if he doesn’t bring it by the heat of the presidential election, I think a lot of people will tap out. Also: if some of these quotes sound familiar, that’s because Noah told some similar stories to GQ last month. Some highlights from Vogue:

The backlash about his tweets: “I realized, when people don’t know you and you’re now going to be a part of their lives, they try to form a picture, taking whatever little information they have. I always say to people, ‘Do you think my two million followers would not have called me into order had I been sexist or racist or anything-ist along the way?’ ”

He was 10 years old when Mandela became president: “I knew it was life-changing. I didn’t know why. When you’re ten years old, you don’t know that you’re not able to sit on a bench reserved for white people. I was at an age where the only authority in my life was my mom. That was my battle—how to get her off my back.”

South Africa vs. USA: “Over time, you start to realize a lot of the challenges we face are so similar. South Africa and America are both struggling with race and race relations and how to address the injustices of the past. We’re still trying to find ways to establish equality between men and women—in terms of the pay gaps and how society perceives us. There are conversations I have in America where I go, ‘This is exactly like being back home.’ ”

The woman in his life: “I’ve never been afraid to fall in love, nor impatient to find it. Right now, the love of my life, and the most demanding woman I’ve ever been with, is comedy. She’s never fully mine. I think I know her, but there are moments when I realize I still have a lot to learn.”

Witnessing his mother in an abusive relationship: “I had never seen anything like that. I’d always thought of women as the stronger and more powerful sex, because that’s what I grew up with.”

He & Jon Stewart are similar: “We will come to the same conclusions, but the formula to get there will be completely different. Jon said it the other day. He said, ‘I’m just tired. I’m angry, and I’m tired. I’m tired that there hasn’t been change.’ ”

[From Vogue]

That Jon Stewart thing is poignant, because that’s what Stewart was radiating for several years. That’s why people weren’t really shocked when he decided to go – he was and is tired. He was tired of trying to find the humor in terrible situations and having to act as a media critic in the sh-tstorm of crazy. I believe Noah probably will have the same political bent as Jon, in that the show is designed to speak truth (truth through satire) to power. I hope Noah does well. We’ll see.

Here’s the teaser trailer for the new Daily Show.

Photo courtesy of VOGUE/Patrick Demarchelier.

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54 Responses to “Trevor Noah: ‘I’d always thought of women as the stronger & more powerful sex’”

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  1. Mara says:

    I saw him on QI a few years ago and thought he was quite good – maybe better at bouncing off others than stand up on his own. But I guess they have other writers on TDS so it should be fine.

    • Franca says:

      His stand up show is really good. I think he will be fine.

    • Sandy123 says:

      I saw that episode too. His info about Shaka Zulu was really interesting and he made Sandy Toksvig swoon from doing the ‘clicking’ language. I thought she was gonna leave her wife that night, lol. He does have great charm in a low key setting.

  2. LAK says:

    I think he’s hilarious. Wish him the best with the daily show.

  3. Esmom says:

    Count me among the skeptics. But I don’t think I’d be happy with any replacement other than John Oliver, which obviously wasn’t going to happen. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised.

    And I totally get why Stewart is tired.

    • FLORC says:

      John Oliver has been Killing It on LWT! That televangelist? I cried laughing. He has his freedom there too.

      Also a skeptic. I didn’t care for the tweets and didn’t find his stand up anything too funny or noteworthy. I did find how he handled the fallout from those old tweets telling. He handled it poorly. Then a week or so later tried to defend his earlier comments that made it worse. Then he went absolutely dark and appears to have rebranded himself.

      I’ll reserve judgement until he’s shown he’s more than someone who can deliver the writers jokes.

    • Pandy says:

      Yeah, I’m a bit skeptical. I watched an hour long stand up special of his (not sure from when) and while he did have a few good bits, I wasn’t rolling on the floor. I think I did LOL once though. His delivery is so soft. Maybe it’s just not my thing.

  4. INeedANap says:

    I think he’s been thoroughly coached. The recent stuff he’s said about women sounds…contrived.

    Who knows, that may be how he actually feels, and those old tweets were remnants of his more immature self. But I will be curious to see how he reports this election, as it seems gender issues will make it to the forefront.

    • Ronda says:

      “I think he’s been thoroughly coached. The recent stuff he’s said about women sounds…contrived. ”

      it does. lots of male celebs do it and then we see how they actually treat and talk about women. it sounds so fake.

    • LookyLoo says:

      Not when taken in context. He’s talking about his mother and HER strength. Ergo his belief that all women were as strong, until he witnessed her being abused. Any sentence when plucked out of a conversation will sound “contrived.”

    • Brittney B says:

      I don’t know; he might have been given some pointers, but if you go back and watch his earliest comedy and his interviews when he was an up-and-comer in South Africa, he has always had incredible respect and admiration for women. His mother is impossibly strong, and she was his rock… and his whole extended family seems very matriarchal.

      I agree that he made some tasteless jokes, objectifying women with stale old humor… but I’m still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because many others have grown out of that kind of “bro” humor, and I’m hoping he just got caught up in the nature of the American comedy club circle. He’s young, and when you’re in your 20′s and you’re traveling extensively and building a career, you can grow immensely in just six or twelve months. Especially if you’ve been through apartheid and domestic violence and a whole host of other horrific circumstances. Not saying it gives him a pass; just that many American male comedians reek of privilege and lack of self-awareness, and he never had the chance to develop those traits. Let’s hope his growth is genuine.

    • Dulcinea says:

      No, I have been following him for over a year now and that’s how he has always been. Maybe a little more articulate and a little less of “looking down on the average American, ” but this is Trevor through and through. I think he will do well.

  5. kibbles says:

    I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he is anywhere near as good a host as Stewart, Colbert, or Oliver. Even if Noah doesn’t deliver, at least we have John Oliver. His show is brilliant and is probably the closest thing we will get to replicating the success of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for the next decade.

  6. Ronda says:

    Can we please start calling out men who say stuff like that? it really insults the intelligence of women everywhere when a man is so clearly trying to BS his way back into be seen as a “good guy” and its way over the top. especially after bein called out on making degrading jokes about women.

    I am incredibly distrustful of men who feel the need to put women publicly on such a pedestal, it always reeks of “i dont beat my wife” syndrome. not to mention its anti feminist to think like that.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      It annoys me, too. There isn’t a “stronger, more powerful sex.” Men and women are not two big blobs of sameness. Some women are stronger than some men and vice versa. I don’t feel complimented by such an obviously false statement.

      • Brittney B says:

        He’s not claiming it’s a true statement, though; quite the opposite… he’s recollecting the loss of innocence, when he realized his mom seemed so strong and resilient to him, but really she was capable of being victimized and destroyed by a man.

        If anything, he’s saying that it was a shock to wake up to his own privilege. I’m also pretty horrified by the “I don’t beat my wife” syndrome comment… this quote was literally part of a conversation about domestic violence, and his mom survived getting shot in the head… he’s not protesting too much, he’s lamenting the reality she had to face.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Thank you, Brittany B. I went back and read it again, and you’re absolutely right. I didn’t know the history of his mother’s abuse, so I misunderstood. Sorry, Trevor.

    • Alicia says:

      It’s totally patronizing.

    • Ellie says:

      Did you even read the excerpt? He was talking about how he was surprised that his mom was in an abusive relationship because he’d thought of women as stronger because his mom was so strong.

      Do people even bother to pretend to listen before grabbing for pitchforks anymore?

      • LAK says:

        Ellie: Exactly.

        People rush to be outraged by headlines without reading the context.

        He tells an anecdote about seeing his mother in an abusive relationship which changed his view of her since before that he’d always thought of her as a strong woman.

        His comment is very specific to his mother’s situation NOT all women and certainly not men vs women.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Well, before you two take up YOUR pitchforks any further, the statement was very unclear if you didn’t know the history of his mother’s abuse. And plenty of men make statements similar to what we thought he was saying. So calm down and stop saying we were rushing to be “outraged.” The most overused word on here, btw. Nobody expressed “outrage.” We were commenting on how statements intended to put women on pedestals were condescending, and they are. We misunderstood. So kill us.

      • LAK says:

        GNAT: you don’t need to know the history of his mother’s abuse to understand the excerpt above.

        He is very clear in the excerpt above.

        The headline is misleading. And if you don’t read the excerpt from which it has been plucked, as you very clearly did not, pitchforks at the ready is the response.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I read it. I misunderstood it. Get over it. If you look below, several other people also misunderstood it. It may have been clear to you, it was not to me. And you claim that OTHER people rush to be outraged.

    • Brittney B says:

      He’s not making a blanket statement; he’s discussing his viewpoint as a CHILD, and how it was shattered when he realized that women can be victimized and weakened by abusive men. He had an insular world view because his mom was his world, and it evolved as she suffered horrific pain.

      Right before his first huge comedy show in South Africa, she was shot in the head by her ex. She survived and thrived, and was even making jokes about it a few weeks later. If I had a superhuman mom like that (when he was a kid, she had to pretend to be the maid because interracial marriage was illegal…), I would probably think women were stronger too.

  7. Starrywonder says:

    Love him and can’t wait.

  8. Mimimonster says:

    Any broad statement that covers a blanket truth about all of one gender or another to just reeks of sexism. I knew nothing about Trevor Noah before reading this, but I’m now very skeptical of his ability to think critically. “Women are the stronger sex” and “comedy is the most demanding woman I’ve been in a relationship with” (I’m paraphrasing) just got my hackles up and I’m feeling quite suspicious of his beliefs and attitudes about women.

    • Esmom says:

      Agree completely. Both those comments had me rolling my eyes. The “comedy as a woman” analogy really sounded extra contrived to me.

      • Brittney B says:

        “I’d always thought”… in other words, he HAD always thought that. As a child. Because his world revolved around his incredibly strong mother.

      • Mimimonster says:

        I see your point but I stand by my original statement. Children don’t have thoughts about one sex or another being strong or powerful. They think of individuals, — it’s adults who separate the world by gender/race/etc. That’s adult language being supplanted on an early experience. If he’d said something to the affect that he thought his mother was incredibly strong and powerful based on watching her resilience, fine, but don’t define all women or men by experience with a few.

        And I could give him a pass with the mom/women/strength comment alone, but when he refers to his work/job to a woman, that’s sexism. Comedy is not a gendered body, nor is a storm, or a ship or nature or anything that men have given the feminine pronoun to that they have to grapple with. It’s patriarchal language pure and simple, and if he’s not aware of his language, he’s not aware of his sexism.

        Clearly, he’s not a malicious sexist, I’m just saying he needs to examine how he speaks and what it implies. The two comments together raise red flags for me and I found both statement to be pandering and patronizing.

      • Brittney B says:

        @ Mimimonster

        Fair enough. I get what you mean about supplanting his ideas (and PR hopes) onto his childhood self. He even admits that he didn’t have a concept of racism when he was 10.

        It’s definitely important to call out sexism, whether it’s malicious and intentional or not. That’s the nature of institutional inequality; it seeps into our language, and he’s under a microscope right now, so you’re right to expect more than empty words and condescending comparisons from him.

        I was just discussing the one quote in question, but I definitely had a problem with “my followers would’ve called me out if I was a sexist/racist”, etc. Sometimes it’s not about BEING a racist or sexist; it’s about perpetuating the problem with generalizations and bad jokes.

      • noonenobodynowhere says:

        @mimimonster: You said that really well. I completely agree about the “comedy as a woman” thing. It grosses me out when men talk about their job or things like it’s a woman.

      • claire says:

        Do you also get offended when women say: my job is my boyfriend right now.
        Neither bother me. To me, it’s just a harmless statement about what is your current focus, taking up all your time, where your devotion lies, etc.

    • Ellie says:

      Read the excerpt. That’s now what he said in either instance.

    • Kitten says:

      I’m totally suspicious of him as well. I’m also incredibly attracted to him. Can I be both?

    • seesittellsit says:

      +1,000 – if I had a dollar for every fatuous statement like this out of the mouths of a famous man . . .

      Imagine if someone out of Eton and Cambridge, like Hiddleston or Redmayne, said, “I’ve always thought of the working-class as the stronger and more powerful class . . . “

      • Brittney B says:

        Again… it’s “I’d”, not “I’ve”. Different tense. He’s recalling a childhood opinion.

  9. susie says:

    I really hope his awesome… so no pressure! LOL!

  10. Kiki says:

    I have seen his comedy, he is funny. I hop he can bring the show to great success, ’cause he has big shoes to fill. So best of luck to him. The the jokes about d grading women, I haven’t heard about them, I just think he is funny that’s all.

  11. seesittellsit says:

    Can I just say how sick and tired I am of hearing statements like this from men, any men? For most of human history, women everywhere have been systematically deprived of anything resembling REAL power: economic, legal, political, and personal power in the form of self-agency, that is, of course, in addition to being routinely brutalized (which they are still being in many parts of the world), objectified, their labor exploited, their feet bound . . .

    Yes, of course, dear, we know, you’ve always thought we’re the stronger and more powerful sex.

    Except, for most of human history, where it counted: the bank, the courts, the ballot box . . .

    • Brittney B says:

      Please re-read the quote in question. He doesn’t say “I’ve always thought”, he said “I’d always thought.” A couple letters make a big difference, and it seems you misread it.

      He’s discussing his past. He’s discussing the effects of domestic violence on his innocent world view as he was growing up. I’m pretty sure he’d agree with you completely, given his subsequent statement about repairing gender inequality and the wage gap. And given his experiences, watching his mother survive horrific abuse.

  12. Ariel says:

    His episode of Comedians in Cars getting coffee was excellent. Really looking forward to his take on the Daily Show.

    • claire says:

      OH! thanks for reminding me of that. I remember when Jerry posted it to FB and I meant to go back and watch it sometime but forgot!

  13. Lucy2 says:

    I hope he does well too, but those are some big shoes to fill.
    I don’t blame Stewart for being ready to leave. I actually had to stop watching the daily show for a while because as hilarious as it was, some of the stories and people it covered were rage inducing.

  14. AlmondJoy says:

    Like many other commenters, I too find it patronizing and disingenuous when men make statements like this after being called out about being disrespectful toward women.

  15. ninal says:

    Man people people are misreading that women quote both left and he’s not being patronizing or sweeping, he’s talking about his childhood view as filtered by his strong mother. Obviously that view was altered once he witnessed her being abused.

  16. Kiddo says:

    He looks dashing in the top photo. I’m giving myself points for the word ‘dashing’; I have no idea where that came from.

  17. shi_gatsu says:

    I’m so into Trevor Noah. He is gorgeous!

  18. Snapdragon808s says:

    Sorry based in Northern Europe so I missed the furore about tweets, can someone fill me in? 😐

  19. Bea says:

    He is crazy gorgeous and I’m willing to stare at his face even if his show sucks, which I doubt highly because all of his stand up shows were absolutely phenomenal.