A day after Trevor Noah was declared the new host of “The Daily Show,” complete with the blessing of the exiting Jon Stewart, his graphic tweets targeting women, Jews and others were causing a social media backlash.
By March 31, the South African comic was a trending topic on Twitter as he drew fire for jokes described as tasteless, hateful and unfunny. Later in the day, Noah and Comedy Central responded.
“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,” Noah, 31, posted to his Twitter account.
“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair,” Comedy Central said in a statement, adding that he has “a bright future” with the network.
B’nai B’rith issued a statement that it “is concerned about the long history of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and misogynistic tweets” by Noah, expressing hope that he “will use this new and larger role responsibly on complex, sensitive issues.”
In a statement, ADL national director Abraham Foxman said he hoped the show remains “funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews,” and wished Noah success.
The comic’s controversial tweets were posted between 2009 and 2014.
In 2009 he wrote, “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!”
A 2010 post said, “South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows how to be peaceful.”
In 2011 he tweeted, “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” He attributed the joke to “fat chicks everywhere.”
Rosanne Barr was among those calling out Noah, tweeting, “U should cease sexist & anti semitic ‘humor’ about jewish women & Israel.”
The tweets showed a different side to Noah than the picture painted by Comedy Central and the comedian himself, who in a March 30 interview likened himself to the New York–born Stewart, saying, “One thing we both share: We are both progressives.”
He added, “Traveling the world I’ve learned that progressives, regardless of their locations, think in a global space.”
Noah, who speaks six languages, is the son of a white European father and a black South African mother whom he has said is “half-Jewish,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Stewart unexpectedly announced in February that he was leaving “The Daily Show” after 16 years. — ap & jta