Trevor Noah is the next host of "The Daily Show," but he already landed in hot water with tweets from several years ago that some people said were anti-Semitic and misogynist. Freelance journalist Valerie Paschall saw Noah's standup tour this weekend in Arlington, Virginia. She tells the Frame that Noah didn't even mention the word "Twitter" during his show. Still, he wasn't afraid to push boundaries.
"He definitely touched on some areas that [I thought], Oh God, this could go very, very badly for you, but he never seemed to dig himself into a hole that he couldn't get out of," Paschall said.
His topics included Ebola, terrorism and racial preconceptions. He didn't say anything that seemed to be anti-Semitic, Paschall said, though he did tell a joke that he prefaced by telling his audience that if they were offended, he understands.
The topic of that joke: The reason he flies airlines run by Muslim companies.
"[Noah said that], number one, there's less likely to be a Muslim terrorist on an organization that is owned and operated by Muslims. And number two, if somebody did do that for some reason, there would probably be someone speaking the language and would be able to figure out what's going on," Paschall told the Frame.
In another touchy issue, Noah joked about how Ebola had made flying for him — as an African passenger — more of an adventure.
Watch Noah at a stand-up appearance from last month, talking about Ebola:
Noah's family wasn't quite as excited about his new gig taking over for Jon Stewart as you might think, Pascall said.
"His grandma said, 'Oh, you have a job now!' And he said, 'Oh, well, I had a job before.' And she said, 'Oh, did you have an office? Then, no,'" Paschall said. "As far as his mother, Trevor has two younger brothers, much younger. One is nine years younger, one is 20 years younger, and apparently the news that he had become the new host of 'The Daily Show' was about on par with the news that his youngest brother won student council president."
Noah still has a ways to go getting his name and face out in front of audiences, though he has performed on both Letterman and "The Tonight Show" when it was still hosted by Jay Leno. He also made a handful of appearances on "The Daily Show," talking international issues. He quite likely wouldn't have sold out seven shows in a row outside Washington, D.C. if it wasn't for his new higher profile gig, though some there were already big fans, Paschall said.
He's also not one to shy away from that old comedy stand-by — working the crowd.
"He definitely interacted with the audience in a very friendly manner," Paschall said. "Somebody's [phone] alarm went off actually as he was reaching the punchline of one of his jokes. And while he did certainly address that an alarm had gone off, he did so in a way that didn't embarrass them horribly. He was just like, 'What? It's 8 p.m. This is a very strange time for your alarm to be going off. Are you just now waking up?' And when he mentioned that he grew up in a one-room home in South Africa, somebody in the front of the audience yelled out the town that he grew up in, and he's like, 'Ahhh, Wikipedia has served you well!'"
Now Noah has to bring along Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" audience with that friendly appeal, once he takes over later this year. Noah does, apparently, have friends in high places. He was spotted at a recent Mets/Phillies game alongside Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. (Read more about Noah's Arlington sets in Paschall's report for the Washington City Paper.)