Trevor Noah, who has spent the past seven years hosting “The Daily Show,” has officially said goodbye to his late-night fans. While he could have chosen any note to leave on, he made his final words an emotional tribute to the Black women who have influenced him.
Since he took over the spot from Jon Stewart, Noah has made the show his own with a blend of quick-witted comedy and thoughtful commentary. Noah had big shoes to fill, but to his credit, he didn’t try to cram his feet into them. He simply brought his own shoes and placed them right next to Stewart’s, offering his own style of comedy and unique perspectives on the world night after night. Even in his “Between the Scenes” segments, where he chatted with the audience during commercial breaks, Noah frequently added insightful context to current issues.
In his final monologue, he credits those insights to his Black women mentors, from his own mother and grandmother to thought leaders he has had on his show to Black women in general. And it’s quite telling that he managed to keep it together in his final show, right up until the point when he talked about these women.
“I’ve often been credited with having these grand ideas—people are like, ‘Oh Trevor, you’re so smart’—who do you think teaches me?” he said. “Who do you think has shaped me, nourished me, informed me?”
He credited the women close to him, but it wasn’t until he talked about Black women in America specifically that he really began to get choked up.
“I always say, if you really want to learn about America, talk to Black women,” he said. “Because unlike everybody else, Black women cannot afford to f*ck around and find out.”
Some of the women Noah mentioned by name responded with their personal stories of their interactions with Noah, and they offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at who Noah is.
Roxane Gay shared that her book tour for “Hunger” had been “a shit show,” with journalists having no idea how to talk about fatness. She had “prepared for the worst” when she arrived at “The Daily Show,” but said Noah turned out to be “a dream.”
“He came to the green room and asked what language he should use around fatness and I said we can be real,” she wrote on Twitter. “The word fat is fine. It was clear he had actually read Hunger. Not every interviewer could say that.
“We had a wonderful, interesting, nuanced conversation,” she continued. “He was smart and kind and funny. He didn’t condescend or treat me like I was repulsive. This shouldn’t be remarkable but it was. I will always be grateful and never forget the consideration.”
Tressie McMillan Cottom, author, professor and sociologist, has been on “The Daily Show” several times, but she shared in a series of tweets that her first appearance came totally out of the blue.
“To this day, only two men have ever slid into my DMs. One was a foreign prince of dubious financial means. The other was Trevor Noah. He politely asked me to be on his show. In my DMs. Like he had to ask. Blew my mind.
I was an assistant professor at a state school with a wonky book about for-profit colleges out on a small press. Trevor had not just read it. When we met, I would learn that he had read almost all of my years-long blog. *HE* asked *me* to be on his show.
I had the opposite of a marketing budget. I had the ‘prayers and wishes’ of publishing. Would I do The Daily Show??? I remember asking him backstage, ‘why am I here??’ With sincere incredulity he said, ‘because you’re brilliant.’ News to me.
It’s hard to overstate how much it meant to a writer and scholar without a serious elite pedigree or a major publisher to get a DM to be on The Daily Show. Trevor put together a team that reflected his own intellectual curiosity. If he booked you? He had read you.
When you see how many Black women he elevated? That’s him. That’s who he reads…Black women are truly the foundation of his intellectual project.”
Walking the talk is always nice to see, and it’s clear why Noah decided to close out his run on “The Daily Show” with the tribute he did.
Thank you, Trevor Noah. You will most definitely be missed.