Trevor Noah has some big shoes to fill. Following Jon Stewart as the host of "The Daily Show" is no easy feat, but the 31-year-old South African comedian is up for the challenge.
However, before he lands in his chair at Comedy Central on Sept. 28, Noah will take the stage Saturday at The Paramount, where Long Islanders will get to know his humor through some thought-provoking stand-up material.
Calling from the road, Noah talked to Newsday about his coveted new job, the hot spotlight that comes with it and what he's like behind the mic.
What was your reaction when they offered you "The Daily Show"? Did it come as a surprise?
Yeah, it was beyond a surprise. Just being considered was good enough for me. When I actually got it, I had to take a moment and sit down on the sidewalk. You can't even take it all in.
Jon Stewart is beloved. Are you nervous about following in his footsteps?
I'll always be nervous about following Jon. It's the same nerves you get when following a great comedian on a stage. Luckily, I'm not ousting Jon. He has decided to leave. I have his blessing and he's going to guide me because he's my mentor. He said, "Make sure this show is in your voice. I know you, you just need to get the audience to know you, then they'll understand why I said you should be the guy taking over."
How has your life changed since the announcement came out?
It's insane. In South Africa and parts of the world I've experienced a slight amount of fame, but "The Daily Show" comes with a whole other machine behind it. It's a different beast. There's more scrutiny and more everything.
How are you going about preparing for the job?
One of the best things was working on the show months before Jon announced his departure. I have already been in the world of "The Daily Show." I've worked with the writers and the producers, so it's not something that's foreign to me.
Part of "The Daily Show" job is doing interviews. How do you feel about that?
It's always fun to have celebrities from movies and music. Then it's great to talk with people that can speak about what may be happening in society by adding a valid opinion or point of view as well as people that are in politics and trying to connect with them on a laymen's level. I'm enjoying thinking about all aspects of the interview process.
Whom would you like to get into the chair?
I've always wanted to have a one-on-one chat with President Barack Obama -- maybe because we have a shared growing-up story as a mixed person. You can find common ground with anyone if you try.
How would you describe your brand of humor?
I'd say my humor is broad yet focused. I find a range of topics funny. I love observational comedy but at the same time I'm a big fan of anecdotal stuff. I enjoy political satire, but I'm not averse to a simple pun. All-around humor is really where I come from.
Have you had to alter your style when coming into the United States because the perspective is different here?
No, that's the thing I've learned the more I've traveled the world -- comedy is comedy. There may be nuances in language, but you learn to connect with people and hopefully you find audiences that connect with you. Then you just carry on your journey as if you've always known each other.
Because you're from outside the United States, do you think you'll help Americans laugh at themselves?
I do it with any country I'm in or know of. Most of the things around us are ludicrous. Some are more serious than others. But comedy is literally speaking your truth. I'm not trying to be controversial, I just want to find the funny.
What drove you to be a comedian?
The first time I did comedy I was 22 at a random bar with friends. There was a show going on and they convinced me to try some stuff, I did it and I have been doing it ever since. I think you just know you are a comedian. You gravitate toward it, you understand it and it's what you do. You go from being a funny person into a professional, which is the hardest part.
What is your current live act like?
Now I'm talking about everything -- the relationship between police and minorities, terrorism in the world, babies and riding on the subway. My show evolves as events unfold across the world. I'm just sharing my thoughts with people and making them laugh.
How does being racially mixed affect your comedic point of view?
I'm able to look at something and dissect it from two points of view that may be completely conflicting. That is how I look at things, and I think it forms my comedy quite a bit.
You tend to stay away from blue material. Was that a decision you made early on?
Not particularly. I love a dirty joke as much as the next comedian, but often I find when I start writing a show it will be silly, stupid and fun. Then something will happen in the world and I'll feel the need to talk about it with my audience. That will take up more time, so I'll take out a joke that means nothing to me. Over time something else will come in. The material slowly forms itself. You find by the end of the show you are talking about a lot more serious things than you thought you would, but they are important to you and that's why you are doing it.
Do you think Twitter can be a dangerous road for comedians to go down?
I don't think Twitter is a problem at all. We are living in the sharing age. We've bred a culture of faux outrage. People no longer consume information as a whole. They get tidbits, headlines and highlights and they want to react to that. This is how we've been trained. You create an opinion based on very little information.
What drives you as a comedian to move forward and progress?
I think connecting with people. If you can make a change, however small it may be, that is the most magical thing ever. Seeing someone smile after a show, helping them forget their problems and enjoy themselves is what keeps me going. That's the reason I do what I do.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m., Saturday, The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO $19.50-$69.50, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com