NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A day after Trevor Noah was declared the new host of “The Daily Show,” complete with the blessing of the exiting Jon Stewart, graphic tweets targeting women, Jews and Middle America are causing a social media backlash.
By Tuesday, Trevor Noah was a trending topic on Twitter as he drew fire for jokes described as tasteless, hateful — and unfunny. Roseanne Barr was among those calling out the 31-year-old South African comic, who has an international following and two million Twitter followers.
“U should cease sexist & anti semitic ‘humor’ about jewish women & Israel,” she tweeted late Monday.
Noah’s controversial tweets were posted between 2009 and 2014.
In 2009 he wrote, “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!”
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn't look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 18, 2009
South Africans know how to recycle like israel knows how to be peaceful.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) June 2, 2010
A 2012 post derides “jewish chicks.” Another one from 2011 jokes about “a hot white woman.”
A hot white woman with ass is like a unicorn. Even if you do see one, you'll probably never get to ride it.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) November 28, 2011
In a post from 2011, he writes, “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” He attributes the joke to “fat chicks everywhere.”
"Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I'm sexy!" – fat chicks everywhere.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 14, 2011
So she gets fat? RT @missdanibagel: When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes 10 times the woman she was before
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) July 18, 2014
When a fan tweeted him last fall with a request to come to Texas, Noah replied, “But you’ve already got Ebola?”
He slammed the United States’ midsection in a 2013 tweet, writing that “When flying over the middle of America the turbulence is so bad. It’s like all the ignorance is rising through the air.”
Comedy Central released a statement supporting Noah on Tuesday.
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” the network said.
“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Noah also posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon in response to the scrutiny he’s suddenly facing.
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015
Conservative commentator David Frum, anticipating the network’s response to the uproar, tweeted, “Daily Show method: entrap & edit targets to look stupid & bigoted. But for Trevornoah (who edited himself) they’ll urge context & nuance.”
“I think this is definitely a problem,” Bob Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, told WCBS 880. “I mean, Trevor Noah had one great day, and then these tweets come out. This isn’t just a satire and edgy humor. I think some of it is actually downright offensive.
“This is something that I think he’s going to have to acknowledge one way or the other, I suspect with the standard apology and then temporarily go away and hope that it goes away,” Thompson added. “Of course, everybody wonders if there isn’t another shoe yet to drop. Are there other things on video? Are other people going to come out with other stories?”
The tweets showed a different side to Noah than the picture painted by Comedy Central and the comedian himself just a day earlier: In a phone interview on Monday from Dubai, where Noah was traveling on a comedy tour, he likened himself to the New York-born Stewart, saying, “One thing we both share: We are both progressives.” He added, “traveling the world I’ve learned that progressives, regardless of their locations, think in a global space.”
Noah, the son of a black South African mother and white European father who speaks six languages, was pitched by Comedy Central as reflecting a new age of global multiculturalism, “a citizen of the world,” in the words of Michele Ganeless, the network’s president.
He was named a little more than a month after Stewart unexpectedly announced he was leaving “The Daily Show” following 16 years as the show’s principal voice. Although no dates have been disclosed, Stewart is expected to depart by the end of the year, with Noah taking over soon afterward.
On Monday, Ganeless spoke of the advantage of introducing Noah to a mainstream U.S. audience through “The Daily Show,” with viewers coming to the show he hosts with no preconceptions. “They will get to discover him, and form their opinions of him, as they watch him host.”
But by Tuesday, some opinions were already forming. Weighing in on Noah’s selection, a Slate column compared his vetting to that of Sarah Palin as a running mate for presidential candidate John McCain.
The choice of a new host for “The Daily Show” is a critical decision not only for the satirical-news program, but for the network, whose identity has largely been forged by the “Daily Show” franchise, which for years was followed by the likewise signature “The Colbert Report.”
By the end of this year, Comedy Central will have completely remade this programming block. In January, African-American comic Larry Wilmore replaced the “The Colbert Report” hosting “The Nightly Show.”
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