Jon Stewart's Replacement, Trevor Noah, is Good News for Millennials

March 30th 2015

Sarah Gray

On Monday morning, Comedy Central announced that newly-introduced correspondent Trevor Noah would succeed Jon Stewart as host of "The Daily Show." The decision to promote the 31-year-old South African comic is altogether thrilling, if not somewhat surprising. Noah has only appeared on "The Daily Show" three times -- the first of those appearances was in December of 2014.

With Noah taking over the "The Daily Show," Comedy Central is bucking the tide of white, middle-aged men ruling the late night host's chair. This decision seems to reflect the millennial generation: according to a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, millennials are the most racially diverse generation in history, and it may inform their political leanings. "The racial makeup of today’s young adults is one of the key factors in explaining their political liberalism," the study explains.

And though conventional wisdom finds that many millennials receive their news from "The Daily Show," a New York Times report finds that this may not hold true. In 2011, the average "Daily Show" viewer was 41-years-old. Earlier this year, The Weekly Standard reported:

"As of 2013, The Daily Show was bringing in approximately 2 million nightly viewers. And according to an exhaustive Pew Survey from 2012, 39 percent of The Daily Show’s regular viewers are between the ages of 18 and 29. That means that approximately 780,000 millennials are regular Daily Show watchers. In the United States, there are 53 million people between the ages of 18 and 29. That means that a whopping 1.5 percent of millennials watch the Daily Show regularly! Let’s be generous and assume that, say, 5 million people watch The Daily Show even occasionally. That would still mean a paltry 1.95 million out of 53 million millennials are Stewart fans."

Noah could change that. Though the South African comedian is not (yet) a household name in the U.S. -- like the comedians rumored to have passed up the hosting gig -- he is not without credentials, a unique and international point of view, and most importantly, a brilliant comedic voice. A voice that could speak to a broader, younger generation.

"He brings such a unique worldview and a deep understanding of human nature, which makes his comedy so insightful," Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless told the New York Times. "He’s truly a student of the world."

And Noah himself -- who grew up during South Africa's Apartheid era with a Black mother of Xhosa heritage and a Swiss father -- said in a phone interview with the Times: "I didn’t live a normal life – I grew up in a country that wasn’t normal." This "not normal" life has become fodder for Noah's comedy, which touches on race, politics, and everyday observations.

Jon Stewart announced he would be stepping down from his 16-year-long reign at "The Daily Show" back in February. Since then, there has been much speculation about who would fill his shoes. In terms of his replacement, Stewart has expressed confidence in Noah, saying in a statement: "I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor. He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with."

Naturally there is disappointment that Comedy Central did not break the late-night gender ranks and select a female comedian to host "The Daily Show." Author and columnist at the Guardian Roxane Gay put it best: "Interesting choice for the new Daily Show host. Bummed a woman wasn't given a shot but I am intrigued."

In terms of keeping the tradition of "The Daily Show's" biting political critique, commingled with a more optimistic demand for change, Noah can bring a refreshing voice, and it hints to a bright future.