by Yvette Carnell
Soon after Trevor Noah was selected to take over Jon Stewart’s role at The Daily Show, interested parties and observers began digging through his Twitter feed. For the most part, all they found were bad jokes, some about Jewish girls as well as how finding a white girl with a big booty is something like a fairytale.
But as Sean Jacobs noted in 2012, Noah doesn’t reserve this sort of comedy solely for non-minorities. He does, in fact, get a kick out of stereotyping African-Americans as well:
After doing some decent jokes about the economy (comparing America’s economy to the “credit of a black man”) and riffing on his background — his mother is black, his father white –Noah, oddly, proceeded to tell jokes about what he called “the whole African-American thing.” What followed–in what was supposed to be a mock “African-American accent”–were some tired generalizations and stereotypes of African Americans about language, black people’s names and of African Americans “trying really hard to reconnect with Africa.” Halfway through I could not bear it anymore with the exaggerated mannerisms, including “walking” like African Americans and their supposed relation to gun play, etcetera. I assume there was to be some irony or edginess in there. That it would lead to someplace interesting. But I could not find it. (Some of the better African-American comedians riff on these same topics, including the “unsayable,” but at least with pathos and sympathy) I suppose I can’t see funny or get a good joke. I couldn’t help recall Steve Coogan’s advice for comedians: “Comedy can’t always be safe, and sometimes entertainers need to challenge social orthodoxies. But ‘saying the unsayable’ is different from simply recycling offensive cliches.”
Also, as The Washington Post’s Wendy Todd observes, Noah separates himself from African-Americans:
“Because he continues to separate himself from African Americans by his repeated use of ‘they’ when making fun of us, Noah should go walk around St. Louis or Cleveland. He’d find out quickly that he’s not viewed any differently than us… It’s all too acceptable to disrespect people of color in this country, especially African Americans, even when you’re also a person of color. Not only did Noah get away with these routines, now he’s being rewarded for them.”
And isn’t anyone going to admit the obvious? That Noah’s, well, not funny?