Trevor Noah (born 20 February 1984) is a South African comedian, best known to an US audience for hosting The Daily Show with Trevor Noah following the departure of Jon Stewart. He was — as the title of his autobiography implies — "born a crime" in South Africa, the result of a then illegal relationship between a white Swiss man and a black Xhosa South African woman.
His comedy circuit attracted attention for its genuinely international and cosmopolitan approach to humour, as Trevor Noah brings a genuinely post-colonial and critical view of international politics, both of his native South Africa, other nations, and of the USA. Helped by the fact that he speaks many languages, including English, Xhosa, German and others.
Trevor Noah's works include examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: According to Born a Crime, his stepfather, Abel, was an alcoholic mechanic with a Hair-Trigger Temper who felt threatened by Trevor's mother, Patricia, not being the meek housewife he firmly believed she should be. He violently assaulted Trevor and Patricia several times and attempted to kill her with a handgun in 2009. He was arrested but was let free by using the defense that he needed to work to take care of his children (Trevor's younger brothers). However, as Trevor points out, even before his mother divorced him, he never financially supported his brothers but due to his honest and apologetic defense (something he was an expert in) and the fact that the police refused to acknowledge his past violent assaults out of a Stay in the Kitchen attitude toward his mother, he was given a three year probation on charges of failed attempted murder and was let free.
- Bilingual Bonus: His appearance at the 91st Academy Awards has him use his gift for languages to insert an "old Xhosa phrase" which at the ceremony he says, is about how people are strong when they come together. Xhosa-speaking viewers correctly identified that what he said was "White people don't know I'm lying".
- Black Speech: Trevor has noticed how the South African accent in spoken English is viewed with a mixture of distrust and amusement in Britain, probably because of the historical associations. He admits that being mixed race, he is not taken for an Amoral Afrikaner who by default doesn't have to prove he's pining for the good old days and that this gives him a free pass. He also riffs on how Germans perceive the accent. He demonstrates how a South African accent in spoken German inevitably comes over to Germans as somewhat Austrian. Which can make a simple request to pass the salt down the table sound like a declaration of intent to invade Poland.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Perhaps due to his multilingual childhood, he has a surprising aptitude to mimic accents with scary accuracy and uses it a lot for comedic effect.
- Hidden Depths: He's really good at dancing. Enough that back in 2012, he managed to become a runner-up in the Dancing with the Stars South Africa.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Due to his status as a "coloured" in Apartheid South Africa, his mother and his dirt-poor extended family had to pretend of not knowing him in public and often hid him from the authorities or any white person when traveling. By his preteen and teen years, he had problems fitting in school due to his lighter skin tone and his tendency to cause mayhem in class and at home with his highly religious and strict disciplinarian mother, who loved him dearly but was never soft with him in terms of discipline, and then add his alcoholic, abusive stepfather and you have a not very good childhood.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: He's capable of having different accents and switch it up right away from a British accent to a Nelson Mandela accent.
- Mixed Ancestry: Being half-white/half-black, which has shaped a large part of his worldview.
- Separated by a Common Language: Some of his humor is based on the differences between South African and American English.