Brexit: Britain should be ‘colonised’ says Trevor Noah
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Trevor Noah is hosting the Grammy Awards for the third year in a row on Sunday, February 5. Despite it not being his first rodeo, he told the Press Association how he still gets nervous and feels the pressure when standing in front of the “best and biggest” performers in the world. But the 38-year-old conceded that “nerves are part of what he does”. The comedian previously hosted The Daily Show for seven years, but when news of his new role was announced, several former tweets emerged casting Noah in a disparaging light.
When a new person bursts onto the celebrity scene or takes on a high-profile role, their past, including their social media, is often examined with a fine-toothed comb — which can sometimes have serious repercussions.
In 2015, Jon Stewart stepped down from The Daily Show and Noah was announced as his successor. His Twitter was then examined by the then-BuzzFeed editor Tom Gara.
It emerged that he had made many jokes about Jews and the Holocaust. For example, in 2009, he wrote: “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look [before] crossing but I still would [have] felt so bad in my german car!”
He also played on antisemitic stereotypes, tweeting that “behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man”.
In a joke about footballer Lionel Messi, he appeared to mix sexism and anti-semitism, writing: “Messi gets the ball and the real players try foul him, but Messi doesn’t go down easy, just like jewish chicks. #ElClasico.”
The posts, mainly from 2011 and 2012, were retweeted by Mr Gara who explained that he was taken aback by Noah’s new appointment. He wrote: “I retweet not in anger. But it’s an impressive rise for a dude who three years ago was replying to Uberfacts tweets with dick jokes.”
Mr Gara was referencing the Uberfact that Noah retweeted which read “the more you fear something, the bigger it appears”. To this, Noah had responded: “So I must make my woman fear my penis?”
In response to the backlash, Noah posted a tweet that read: “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter.” However, this was then deleted. He then wrote: “To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor evolution as a comedian.”
Comedy Central, the brand behind The Daily Show, stood behind their new presenter, making a statement in 2015 which said that Noah, like many comedians, likes to “push boundaries, is provocative and spares no one”. Much like Noah’s response, it added: “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair.”
Other comedians lept to his defence with some dismissing the comments as merely jokes.
Chair of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Mary Klurk, told the Jewish Report in April of that year that while negative stereotypes of all people are potentially offensive, the board felt that the jokes did not constitute anti-Jewish prejudice. She added: “Noah’s style of humour is playful, and is intended to provoke a response.”
During his tenure on The Daily Show, his jokes also caused controversy. When France won the FIFA World Cup in 2018, beating Croatia 4-2, he was accused of racism as he said: “I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends. Basically, if you don’t understand, France is Africans’ backup team.”
Football fans retaliated, claiming Noah was denying stars like Kylian Mbappe the right to “be a proud Frenchman”. However, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro came out in support of Noah’s joke, stating that “in reality, Africa won, the African immigrants who arrived in France”.
But the US’s French Ambassador, Gérard Araud, condemned the comments, writing: “Unlike the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion or origin. For us, there is no hyphenated identity, the roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems that you are denying their Frenchness.”
In response to the backlash, Noah explained that he was trying to celebrate the players’ African heritage, rather than denying their Frenchness.
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The following year, Noah was forced to apologise for comments made about the increase in tensions that occurred between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
He joked that if the countries went embarked on a full-blown war, it would be the “most entertaining” of all, adding that it would “also be the longest war of all time — another dance number.”
The two countries have fought two wars with there being conflict over Kashmir, with each claiming the region as theirs. From February 14, 2019, shelling and strikes took place over the border causing casualties on both sides.
The comments caused outrage with many taking to Twitter to express their disgust and disappointment at “another played-out Bollywood joke”. Trevor then apologised for the hurt that he had caused.
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