Comedian Trevor Noah, a relative newcomer to U.S. television, will replace Jon Stewart as the new host of the Emmy Award-winning, late-night parody newscast “The Daily Show,” Comedy Central said on Monday.
The Viacom Inc-owned network said it selected South African-born Noah, 31, because he is an “enormous talent” and “wickedly funny.” The show’s premiere, it added, would be announced at a later date.
“For the next host of ‘The Daily Show,’ we set out to find a fresh voice who can speak to our audience with a keen take on the events of the day, and we found that in Trevor,” Michele Ganeless, the president of Comedy Central, said in the statement.
Stewart, 52, who has starred on the satirical show since 1999, announced last month that he was leaving his job, but gave no specific plans for his next career move.
During his long tenure, the show, which airs weeknights at 11 p.m. and averages slightly more than a million viewers each night, became influential in U.S. politics and culture.
Noah’s appointment is the second major recent change at the comedy cable network. Larry Wilmore took over Stephen Colbert’s time slot in January after he left the network to succeed David Letterman, who is retiring in May as the host of CBS Television’s “Late Show.”
Noah, who is mixed-race, made his first appearance on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” in 2014 as a contributor. He said it was an honor to replace Stewart.
“He and the team at ‘The Daily Show’ have created an incredible show whose impact is felt over the world,” Noah said in a statement. “I’m excited to get started and work with such a fantastic group of people.”
Stewart said on Twitter: “Very excited to welcome our next host: @Trevornoah! That’s right – another guy in late night from Soweto.”
Noah made his U.S. television debut in 2012 on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” He also appeared in a one-man show, “The Racist,” at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe festival in Scotland, and was the subject of an award-winning documentary film, “You Laugh But It’s True,” about his career in post-apartheid South Africa.
Born to a South African mother and Swiss father, Noah grew up in Johannesburg’s Soweto township. For much of his childhood, his African family passed him off as an albino. Under apartheid laws, different races could not mix and he was not allowed to live with either of his parents.
News of his new role spread quickly in South Africa.
“Over the years, Mr. Noah has proved that laughter is the best medicine and has helped our country and its people to find healing through laughing at themselves,” said Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.
“South Africa is a microcosm of the world and there is no doubt that a global audience will find resonance in his humor,” he added in an email.
A fan, Akhona Sihlobo @AkhonaSihlobo, tweeted: “I have never watched The Daily Show. But as soon as @Trevornoah officially starts, I’m there.”
(Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, additional reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura in Johannesburg and Patricia Reaney in New York; editing by Lisa Lambert, G Crosse and Meredith Mazzilli)