On September 28, 2015, Trevor Noah came to international prominence when he took over the high-profile presenter seat of The Daily Show from Jon Stewart. You may know quite a bit about Noah already, such as that he is South African, born under apartheid from a black Xhosa mother and a German-Swiss father, and that he was previously a stand-up comedian by profession. Aspects of his personal life have also been in the news, such as that his mother was shot in the head by his stepfather in 2009, but since he is touring, here are five things you probably didn’t know about Noah that you may want to know before you go see him live.
He once subsisted for an entire month on only worms and wild spinach. In his autobiography, Born a Crime and Other Stories, Noah makes no secret of the fact that he grew up poor, but during one particularly difficult period of his childhood, when his stepfather’s vehicle repair business was doing very badly, the family subsisted for a month on the cheap South African dish of mopane worms and morogo. Mopane worms are preserved by drying, and then the dried worms are boiled to make a meal. Morogo is a form of wild spinach grown in South Africa.
While the young Noah initially saw the diet as a “food adventure”, it eventually became too disgusting for him, and after begging his mother that he did not want to eat worms anymore, she relented and scraped together the money to buy chicken.
He once spent a week in jail for a traffic violation. As a youngster, Noah “borrowed” an old car from his stepfather’s vehicle repair shop without permission, put an arbitrary number plate on it and went on an errand. When he was stopped by traffic police, they soon found that the vehicle was not registered in Noah’s name. Rather than coming clean about “borrowing” a car and facing his parents’ wrath at home, he allowed himself to be arrested on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle. In jail, he slowly realized the gravity of the situation that, if he did not make bail, he would join the thousands of South Africa’s awaiting-trial prisoners for a period that could extend to months or years. He was very relieved when his lawyer managed to negotiate bail for him, and the matter was later resolved without a sentence.
He spent the entire night of his high school dance sitting in his car outside the hall with his date, who refused to leave the vehicle. In his autobiography, Noah tells how his date for his high school farewell dance was arranged by a friend.
Noah speaks many languages, among them English, Xhosa (his mother’s home language), Zulu, Sotho, German (his father’s mother tongue), Xitsonga (the home language of the man who was his stepfather while growing up) and Afrikaans, but not Sepedi – another South African indigenous language. Unbeknown to Noah the girl who had agreed to be his date only spoke Sepedi – they had only ever exchanged simple phrases such as “hi”, “bye”, “yes” and “no”. The shy teenager was petrified when she realized what she had let herself in for, attending an event where she could understand no one, and no one could understand her, and refused to exit the vehicle. So Noah spent the entire night of his high school dance pleading with his date to accompany him into the hall, with no success.
Noah did make up for not dancing at his high school farewell dance later in his life, by coming second in the South African version of Strictly Come Dancing / Dancing with the Stars. In 2008 he participated in the fourth season of South Africa’s version of the popular dancing competition, and after initially being the favorite to win, eventually finished as runner-up.
He was once the “CEO” of a telecoms company. As part of an advertising campaign, from August 2010 Noah was widely promoted as the “CEO”, or “Customer Experience Officer”, of Cell C, a mobile telephony provider in South Africa. However, in February 2012 the company ditched Noah as its brand representative, saying it had to “reassert the brand’s identity independent of Noah”, which is one way of saying that Noah had become too popular as “CEO” of Cell C.
The Daily Show first aired on January 11, 1999, on the Comedy Central network. It is currently running its 21st season.
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” premiered on September 28, 2015, in New York City.
Weeknights at 11/10c and on the Comedy Central App.
Get free tickets: dailyshow.com/tickets
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