Last night Trevor Noah sat at The Daily Show desk for the first time as host, and it went very much okay. He opened with a tribute to Jon Stewart that felt genuine and heartfelt, and then he segued into current events, focusing on the Pope’s trip to the US. There were a couple of bits with correspondents, including new guy Roy Wood, Jr., who immediately made a more distinct impression than Noah. The best bit of the night was Wood’s “black people aren’t going to Mars” bit. The line, “Brothers can’t catch a cab—you think we can catch a spaceship?” landed better than any of Noah’s jokes.
To be fair to Noah, though, he was just trying not to blow up The Daily Show on his first night out. A fair portion of Stewart’s writing staff stayed on to help transition the show to its new host, and Noah didn’t tinker with a format that works. He trades Stewart’s cynical eye-rolls for wide-eyed incredulity but he has a similar rhythm, and he took big swings with jokes that undoubtedly pissed some people off, but he has to take those risks if he’s going to make this show his own.
His interview with Kevin Hart, though, was ROUGH. If he’s going to keep bringing on nightly guests, Noah is going to have to improve his interviewing skills ASAP. Or maybe just ditch nightly guests altogether? The Daily Show has long felt hampered by the guest interview portion, especially when you can tell the guest doesn’t really have all that much to say.
It will take time for Noah to find his feet as host and leader behind the scenes—a better look at what Noah’s Daily Show will be is still four to six weeks down the line. For now, he survived his first night without any major missteps, and a few promising signs. We should check back a little later to see how Noah is holding up.
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