Trevor Noah: Fans rally after backlash over old jokes

Digital Content

Within 24 hours, as writer Dave Weigel noted, new Daily Show host Trevor Noah went from "progressive icon to villain".

The cause? A social media record that showed Noah cracking jokes that many found in poor taste - and worse, unfunny.

The tweets made jokes at the expense of fat women, Jews and Asians. They resulted in a slew of articles second-guessing the choice of Noah, a 31-year old South African, to take over Jon Stewart's role on the beloved Comedy Central programme.

"The problem is not that Trevor Noah tells offensive jokes. It's not even that he routinely breaks The Daily Show's covenant of speaking truth to power in favour of speaking truth to fat chicks or Thai hookers or, as the Washington Post's Wendy Todd points out, black Americans who give their kids names that Noah disapproves of. The problem is that Noah's jokes are so annihilatingly stupid," wrote Jessica Winter in Slate.

But while the mainstream media was focused on Noah's flaws, Twitter was mostly on his side.

After the news broke, there were more than 33,000 tweets with the #TrevorNoah hashtag.

Takunda Bimha, Trevor Noah's first talent manager in South Africa, says Noah has always resonated with audiences and been able to walk a fine line.

"In many ways one of the reasons he has been very successful is that he is so many people in one person. He is white because half of his family is white, he is black because half of his family is black but he's also mixed race: he transverses this space," Bimha says.

"In South Africa it doesn't matter which audience is in front of him, he could speak to them all. He was every one of them. For the first time we had a comedian who was unifying audiences," Bimha, of Podium Comedy Merchants, told BBC Trending.

"What US and global audiences are going to be blown away by is the fact that this kid breaks through boundaries of colour, race, and language."

By Tuesday afternoon, Comedy Central issued a statement defending their newest star.

"Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central."

On Monday night, Noah himself wrote, "To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn't land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian."

He put that message out via Twitter.

Other than that, his feed has been quiet.

Source: BBC Trending  1 April 2015