Trevor Noah admits he didn’t expect his social media exchange with Kanye West to explode the way it did earlier this year.
After Noah discussed West’s behavior towards ex-wife Kim Kardashian on The Daily Show, West responded by blasting him with a racial slur on Instagram, which resulted in West being banned from the platform for a day. At the time, Noah responded on Instagram by noting that “the biggest trick racists ever played on black people was teaching us to take away our blackness from each other when we disagreed” and that “I don’t care if you support Trump and I don’t care if you fry Pete. However, I do care when I see you walking down a path dangerously close to danger and pain.”
The Grammys, which Noah hosted, canceled West’s appearance on the show, which Noah criticized. Speaking to Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast, Noah explained why he reacted the way he did.
“I’m now more comfortable speaking my mind in situations where I feel like the mob forgets we’re dealing with people,” he says. “It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and see a train wreck coming and say nothing about it. And then, after the train falls off the tracks, we’re like, ‘Oh, I saw that coming!’ Then why didn’t you say anything? Especially when you have some kind of platform, you have some kind of obligation to tell the truth. See something and say something.
“And I also understand that people are a paradox. We can love people we hate, we can hate people we love. Man as a whole is a complicated paradox. And that’s why I don’t like living in a world where we’re constantly throwing people away like garbage. Kanye West is someone who left an indelible mark on my life. His music has literally taken me through different stages of my journey, but then there are moments where I go, like, ‘Man, Kanye, you, you’re going off the rails here.’ But I can still say, ‘I care about you as a person, so I’m speaking out. I won’t take care of you, I won’t suddenly hate you.’ That’s how I try to see the world, that’s how I hope people see me.
“If I engaged you as a person and you like me or if you like someone in your life, I hope that you have the ability to say to that person, ‘Hey, I think what you’re doing here is wrong . I think you might be headed in the dangerous direction. And I say that because I like you. I do not reject you as a person.’ And I think we’ve gotten really comfortable throwing people away, throwing them away right away and making them irretrievable characters. I actually think that we should all be given the opportunity to redeem ourselves. We should all have the opportunity for salvation.”
On this edition of the Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast, we talk to the host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on a wide range of topics, including a late-night show that breaks news when the news is so incessantly grim. Also, the success of his correspondents, the fact that he may be the only weeknight talk show host who didn’t get COVID, how he got his audience groove back, and also the show’s multiple Emmy nominations — seven in “The Daily Show and its companion series, the most adopted for the franchise since Noah took over as host in 2015. Listen below!
Noah has many interesting thoughts on how, in this social media age, society is so quick to make judgments about the behavior of people – both celebrities and others. When he hosted the Grammys, it was just days after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars. And it was still one of the biggest news stories of the moment, something Noah addressed briefly on his awards show. But he says he’s also disturbed by the idea that this was “another instance of people dumping a person so quickly.
“I find it fascinating,” he says. “If we look at it through the scales of justice, or even if you just look at it through the lens of humanity… How many rights are wrongs worth, and what wrongs annihilate all rights? Now when is a person mean? I was shocked by how many people immediately said, ‘Will Smith is a garbage man and he’s the worst person, he should be in jail.’ I thought, ‘Wow, wow. OK.’ That was really interesting for me. As opposed to saying, that person we’ve loved for so long who hasn’t made a mistake anywhere. Something went wrong here. Something went really wrong, what went wrong? Should we go in there? Should we dive into humanity? Should we ask, should we ask? Should we care? No, no, this is no longer the world we live in.
“People are instantly defined,” he adds. “And you cannot exist in a gray room. You cannot be a good person who has done something bad. And you can’t be a bad person doing good. You are either a good person or a bad person. And that’s it. And then society flips with you depending on your last action. I try not to get too involved with it.”
Social media, of course, is so much to blame for this quick, loud, and overbearing reaction to just about anything in the world.
“I think one of the worst things that social media has done to us is that they’ve rewarded the hot take,” says Noah. “It rewarded the most extreme version of any opinion there is. Unfortunately, if you provide a nuanced opinion in a tweet, the algorithm won’t get that far because it doesn’t scale that many people, and engagement is what social media is trying to achieve. The problem is that the best way to get the most engagement is to ignite tension. And while that’s great for a social media company’s bottom line, it’s terrible for us humans.
“If I wanted to get everyone’s attention on the freeway, the best way to do that is to cause a huge accident. Everyone will stop and everyone will look, but that’s terrible for the Autobahn. I like to think of us as a society, we’re on the highway, we’re all trying to get somewhere. On social media, this algorithm knows if I can turn this into a huge disaster, a huge pile-up, I’ll get everyone to stop and get involved. And I don’t think that’s the best thing for us as people.”
The Daily Show returned to its old studios this spring, and the Comedy Central late-night series finally brought a studio audience back after two years.
“I have to admit, I took it for granted,” says Noah. “When the pandemic started, I didn’t really think about what a difference it would make if the people I spoke to were at home as surrogates for the viewer because it was such a novelty. And in the beginning it was fun, it was new, it was different. It was interesting. And I really enjoyed doing the show without an audience. But what happens over time, you forget that you don’t smile that much, you forget that you don’t make eye contact with another human being. You forget how much our moods as humans are affected by the moods of other people. That’s probably one of the biggest things I really appreciate about coming back to a studio with an audience, how much the audience pulls me in. i have fun with them We have conversations, we discuss what’s happening in the news. And it’s less about what’s going on in my head and more about the conversations I have with people that we all experience.”
This year, The Daily Show’s multiple Emmy nominations include Outstanding Variety Talk Show and Writing for a Variety Series. In the ever-expanding The Daily Show universe, The Daily Show Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers the Globe – Hungary for Democracy received an Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special nomination.
“The thing about Jordan is that it often seems like magic, it often seems like he’s kind of a mentalist,” says Noah. “But someone who has had the pleasure of being in an office with Jordan Klepper and having every type of conversation with him, what makes Jordan Klepper so good at what he does is that he listens. He really listens to people when they speak. I think it’s probably his improv background. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal improviser. So he listens. And it’s interesting how many contradictions you’ll pick up from people in American politics.”
Between the Scenes also received recognition, earning its fourth nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction or Reality Short Form Series. And Desi Lydic received a nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Short-Form Comedy or Drama Series (for “Desi Lydic Foxsplains”), which is also her first individual Emmy nomination.
“I don’t take any of this for granted,” says Noah. “I know that tomorrow everything can be gone. And so I do my best every day. I always tell my team, remember, we’re lucky to be on TV. We’re lucky that people still see what we create. So for the nominations, I mean, that’s crazy. It’s a testament to the team. My executive producer, Jen Flanz, assembled the crew and grew our workforce from I think it was about 90 people when I took over to 140, 150 now. It’s a testament to how hard everyone has worked.”
Also on this episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, as Emmy voting closes on Monday, our Awards Circuit Roundtable discusses this year’s open races.
Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop shop for lively conversations about the best of film and television. Each week, Awards Circuit features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards and industry headlines; and a lot more. Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes are released weekly.
https://variety.com/2022/tv/awards/trevor-noah-emmys-kanye-west-will-smith-the-daily-show-1235345095/ Trevor Noah on working better with Kanye West and Will Smith