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Opinion: Comedy Central deserves trust for bold Stewart replacement

Trevor Noah will be replacing Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."  Credit: Byron Keulemans

Trevor Noah will be replacing Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”
Credit: Byron Keulemans

Trevor Noah? Who the heck is that?

I’m not going to pretend I’ve been following the comedian for years, or for that matter that I had any idea who he was before The New York Times broke the news Monday morning that he would succeed Jon Stewart at “The Daily Show” later this year.

Truthfully, I know very little about Noah, but I’m more than confident in him.

While browsing through Twitter — the magical website that brings ideas and people from all over the world, some more insightful than others, right to my face — I came across an exceptionally hot take, essentially stating Noah couldn’t do the job because he’s not American.

It sort of makes sense that a Noah, a South African, a foreigner, can’t get on the TV and make fun of my country. It’s not fair — if you don’t think about it.

While “The Daily Show” is primarily focused on American news and politics, it still  covers international news or events. And yes, Noah is foreign, but you don’t have to be an American to notice how dumb or ridiculous American politics or news can be. I mean, it’s not as if being American holds me back from cracking jokes about international events; what holds me back is that I’m just not funny.

John Oliver had not only been a correspondent for “The Daily Show” but also was host for eight weeks when Stewart was away directing “Rosewater.” Oliver did all this, remarkably, while being British.

Without missing a beat, Oliver brought wit and satire to the show while he hosted, and more than did his part as the “senior British correspondent.”

Now, he’s hosting his own weekly satirical news show, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” on HBO, despite his British nationality and accent.

But even if Noah’s critics move past the xenophobic backlash — which was pretty limited, thank goodness — some are still left unsatisfied. “Where’s Tina Fey?” they’re asking.

I fell into this camp initially, as a huge Tina Fey fanboy myself. However, Twitter came to the rescue and this time its users brought me insight: Tina Fey is too well-known.

If Fey hosted the show, everybody would be expecting “Weekend Update.”

The problem with casting Fey is that “The Daily Show” isn’t “Weekend Update.” One is a short, live, weekly sketch and the other is a news show designed to fill a 30-minute slot four nights a week.

Fey would be typecast, and although I love her, she might not fully fit with the different format. People would be wanting “The Tina Fey Show,” not the “The Daily Show.”

Besides, Fey is clearly busy with producing her amazing new show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and I’d hate to take her away from that.

Noah is coming in relatively unknown, much as Stewart did when he came on to host the show, replacing Craig Kilborn. He has a blank slate: His fans have no predispositions, so he has total freedom to make the show as great as it possibly can be.

Critics are wrong to not have faith in Noah. I’m actively confident in him. Comedy Central could have gone with absolutely anyone when it was looking for Stewart’s replacement — the show has a global reputation, and talent of all shapes and sizes presumably clamored for a spot to host it. With essentially an opportunity to pick almost anyone, it picked Noah. I trust the network’s judgment.

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