By the time summer ends, Philadelphia should be pretty sick of Trevor Noah. First there’s his stand-up comic gig at SugarHouse Casino on Sunday, April 23. Then, the South African comedian — who took over as host of late-night darling “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart in 2015 — will camp out at University City's Annenberg Center in July for Comedy Central's coverage of the Democratic National Convention.
We caught up with the 32-year-old during his lunch break in New York City to talk his flawless Ben Carson impression as well as his response to Daily Show fans who miss Jon Stewart.
You started your career in stand-up in South Africa. What's the main difference between doing stand-up there vs. here?
I think there are more similarities than differences when it comes to stand-up between the two. The biggest difference though is that because comedy is fresh and new in South Africa, the audience is a lot harder to offend.
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Have you done stand-up in South Africa since you've moved to the States?
Yes, I still do comedy all over the world— South Africa, the UK, Dubai, etc. Whenever we're off for a week, I try to travel.
You began your career in radio and acting gigs. How did you evolve into comedy?
I think I've always been a comedian. I just didn't know then that stand-up would eventually be my home. Every other job that I had in the entertainment business helped me express being funny, but each in a different way.
You started at “The Daily Show” as an occasional contributor in 2014. Was there any indication that you were being groomed for anything other than what you were doing?
Not at all. I just loved telling jokes about the world around us and I loved working with Jon. Everything else was a surprise.
You made “The Daily Show” your own from the start of your tenure. How do you think its going?
Well, it's a very hard and long process and I'm still working on it every day that I'm there. But, from the get-go, I knew that replacing Jon Stewart would be impossible. That's why I don't ever try to do that. Instead, I just try to improve being me.
Was there ever any pressure — outside of the show’s ending moment of Zen — to hang onto the old?
There's always resistance to change, no matter what you're changing. I just have to believe that I have something new to offer and so I must focus on that.
You do a hell-of-a sleepy Ben Carson impersonation. How much do you miss him as a Presidential candidate?
Ben Carson will always be in my heart or on my brain.
What do you say to people who miss Jon Stewart?
I tell them that I totally understand because I miss him too. And that just because you like me doesn't mean you have to stop liking Jon. You can like burgers and pizza at the same time.
Knowing that you write much of what “The Daily Show” is on a nightly basis, how and what do you save for stand-up?
Luckily, there's a ton of weird things or topics that never make it into the television broadcast. Stand-up is the perfect format for those pieces, so I'm good.
In your stand-up, is there a line that you won't cross or a ceremony that you won't stand upon?
No. I believe there's something funny in any situation.
Is there one motto that you try to live your life by?
Imagine that you won the lottery — what would you do differently in your life? Now try to live your life like that.