Tonight Trevor Noah takes over late night’s smartest talk show, The Daily Show. When Trevor was named as Jon Stewart’s successor, there were plenty of questions. At the time Noah was basically the last kid in the door. He had been hired as a correspondent in December 2014, and most people had never heard of him. Now everyone’s waiting to see whether Trevor will hold his own. Trevor is smart, he knows all of these things, but its easy to forget them when you’re taking over a show of this magnitude and popularity.
Our short simple list for Trevor is for the coming weeks when every person has advice of how to change. Avoid these traps, and build something great.
Of course you want this to be your version of the Daily Show but Jon Stewart built an empire and handed you the keys. You have been anointed by a King and that should give you the good will of his subjects, so you’ll want to stay true to the core values of The Daily Show and you’ll have a huge head start. Be funny, be smart, be honest and fear no one.
Stephen and the Two Jimmys are playing field hockey with cream puffs and doing karaoke while hosting party games. Put that pin the tail on the donkey game back on the shelf. Avoid the silly. Don’t lower yourself to viral kitten videos. You are a smart guy so do a smart show. Smart is a wide open field for you so leave the jello shots to the frat boys.
Here is where you have room to stand out and take late night in new directions. You are from South Africa and have done stand-up all over the world so let America see what the rest of the world thinks of us. Open our eyes, and maybe a few minds. Have your correspondents go to 6 different continents to see what the planet thinks about American news.
Late night has set its sights on Millennials to the exclusion of all else, or so it seems. Don’t let the network marketing guys get you too hung up on the Millennial trends. This is another place where your stand up background comes in handy. When you do stand up you don’t cater just to kids in a certain purchasing group, so there’s no reason your show should either. Do your show, your way, and the millennials will show up along with everyone else.
Now that we have stand up comedians all over late night, you would think this would be the golden age of comedy guests. Oddly it’s not. Existing late night shows feature fewer stand up guests, and treat them with less respect than ever before. And with comedy stronger than ever, it’s a giant mistake. Don’t be afraid of grooming strong talent. The Daily Show is the perfect show to feature more smart, opinionated comedians, whether its New York established talent like Colin Quinn and Dave Attell, international stars that America needs to embrace like Jim Jefferies, Eddie Izzard and Simon Amstell, or discovering new young talent.
That’s it. Oh and please don’t sing. There’s enough of that going around.
Watch Trevor Noah take over on The Daily Show TONIGHT Monday September 28th at 11pm.