Trevor Noah announced his departure from “The Daily Show” on Thursday night on what was his seventh anniversary as host. Noah said he was grateful for anyone who had contributed to the success of the show, promising he wasn’t leaving just yet.
“We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, but after seven years, I feel like it’s time,” Noah said.
Noah, a comic and former “Daily Show” correspondent, was a surprising choice to succeed the longtime host Jon Stewart after Stewart left the show in 2015.
Noah acknowledged this on Thursday, thanking Comedy Central for trusting “this random comedian no one knew on this side of the world.” But his voice, as one of late night’s few Black hosts, and as an immigrant and millennial, offered a different perspective from that of his broadcast network counterparts.
Here, in chronological order, are a few of the best moments from Noah’s “Daily Show” reign.
‘Dad has left.’
In his first episode, Noah called his becoming host of “The Daily Show” “surreal” as he paid tribute to Stewart: “He was more than just a late night host. He was our voice, our refuge, and in many ways, our political dad. And it’s weird because dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new step dad, and he’s Black.”
Noah also thanked his predecessor for believing in him and said he would make sure Stewart wouldn’t regret his support, adding, “I’ll make you not look like the crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid from Africa.”
“The Daily Show” made its reputation on its election coverage, and the first presidential contest of Noah’s tenure was a doozy. After Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November 2016, Noah lamented that the result reminded him of Trump’s hair: “I know it’s real, but I can’t accept it.”
With a nod to to Trump’s scandal-plagued for-profit school Trump University, Noah went on to explain how Clinton lost despite having more votes: “Once again, Donald Trump benefits from a [expletive] college.”
In 2017, Noah took on the racism aimed at professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick, artists like Stevie Wonder and the ESPN commentator Jemele Hill after they were criticized by Republicans for protesting the national anthem and President Trump.
Noah summed it up in a Seussical rhyme: “I mean, we know it’s wrong to do it in the streets; it’s wrong to do it in the tweets. You cannot do it on the field, you cannot do it if you’ve kneeled. And don’t do it if you’re rich, you ungrateful son of a bitch, because there’s one thing that’s a fact, you cannot protest if you’re Black.”
Going home to South Africa
In 2018, Noah took “The Daily Show” to his hometown, Johannesburg, offering a “Cribs: Oppression Edition”-style tour of his grandmother’s home, a spoof of the MTV franchise, before talking with her about Nelson Mandela and apartheid in South Africa.
When talking about the police teams, known as “flying squads,” who violently dragged people from their homes, Noah took a moment to insert some levity. He pointed to one of his crew members and asked his grandmother, “When you see white guys like this, does it remind you of police?” After his grandmother said yes, Noah told the crew member, “I hope you’re happy, bringing memories of flying squad into my house.”
‘Breaks my heart’
The following year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, of Canada, became the latest politician to have blackface photos surface. Noah wryly responded to the revelation that Trudeau had worn blackface on several different occasions and to the prime minister’s subsequent apology just before his bid for re-election in 2019.
“To be honest, I’m just sad to see another Black man being brought down,” Noah joked. “Breaks my heart.”
From his couch to yours
“From Trevor’s couch in New York City to your couch somewhere in the world,” Noah joined his fellow late night hosts in shooting his show entirely from home during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Noah’s at-home shows were notable for his hoodie collection, a noticeable wardrobe shift from his regular “Daily Show” suits.
“The Daily Social Distancing Show” started in mid-March 2020 and continued for two years, with Noah returning to taping in front of a live audience in April 2022.
Mr. Noah goes to Washington.
Also in April 2022, Noah hosted the White House Correspondents Dinner — also known as “the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event,” he said. Noah skewered everyone in the room for not wearing masks, thanking them for inviting him — “the South African variant” — before making jokes about Kellyanne Conway, Kyrsten Sinema (“openly bisexual but closeted Republican”) and President Joe Biden, of course, among many others.
“As you all know, President Biden’s lack of a filter does get him into hot water sometimes,” Noah said. “Last month he caused a huge international incident saying that Vladimir Putin should be removed from power. It was very, very upsetting to Russia. Yeah, until someone explained to them that none of the stuff Biden wants actually gets done.”
‘I can say that.’
More recently, Noah dove into the racist sentiments aimed at Halle Bailey for being cast as a Black Little Mermaid: “You guys realize that Nemo was Black too, right? Yeah, yeah — that whole movie was about a fish who can’t find his dad.”
After a mixed audience reaction, Noah told them to calm down: “I can say that because my dad left, and he’s white, so who’s racist now?”
They were the kinds of jokes that only he could deliver in this format, an example of the unique comic perspective that “The Daily Show,” and late night as a whole, will lose when he leaves the stage.