New 'Daily Show' host Trevor Noah explains how his creative process has evolved

Trevor noahFrederick M. Brown/Getty‘The Daily Show’

Trevor Noah will fill Jon Stewart’s former role as host of “The Daily Show” starting Sept. 28, a job he landed after just a brief stint as a “Daily Show” correspondent.

The 31-year-old South African comedian has been honing his stage presence since he was 18. Now that he’s part of an experienced team of Comedy Central writers and producers, he’s refining his creative process.

At a panel at “The Daily Show” studios on Friday, we asked Noah how he’s transitioned from developing material for a stand-up career to becoming the host of an acclaimed show with an Emmy-winning team of creative people.

He said the journey has been like dating someone new, and the main task has been keeping honesty at the forefront.

“Performing stand up, you have no tools at your disposal, no production tools,” Noah said. “So what you’re trying to do is create a world only using your words. And so what’s been fun here is learning how many tools we have at our disposal. There are screens, there are videos, there are things that can help you create that picture…

“And so what’s been really fun is learning to incorporate that into what I’ve been doing and then finding ways to authentically bring Trevor into the show.”

He said he and his team have been focusing on how to develop him as the host without compromising either the tradition of the show or his authentic self. “My stand up is honestly the most natural version of who I am,” Noah explained. “I don’t play a character on stage. I try to get to the most honest place. And so I’m trying to get to that place on the show.”

It’s a matter of practice. “That just comes with doing it repetitively,” he said. “You find your rhythm, you find your beat. You start to learn the audience, you start to learn each other. It’s like any relationship, you know? Your first date, you go, Does this work? And then, Yeah, let’s do this again. And again, and again, and again. And then you slowly slide into a rhythm. And then you hate one another — the other person is there all the time, throwing towels on the bathroom floor and squeezing the toothpaste.”

Noah is now in a position where he’s learning to appreciate the similarities and differences of the worlds of stand up and cable television, as well as the worlds of being a one-man show and being one member of a large team. “It’s a beautiful journey that we’ll be on together,” he said. “It’s about meshing those two worlds and finding the right balance.”

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