Johannesburg - The appointment of Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show has shone a bright light on South Africa’s comedy industry, according to veteran comedian John Vlismas.
Noah takes over the hot seat on the 20-time Emmy Award- winning show on Tuesday, stepping into the shoes of Jon Stewart, who left the show last month after 16 years at the helm.
The guest line-up includes US comedian Kevin Hart, singer Ryan Adams, Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“Trevor has shone a bright light on the local comedy industry and the results are showing, with some global management deals, Dave Kibuuka being hired by The Daily Show to write, and talent scouts sniffing around South African acts more than ever,” said Vlismas.
Noah has been preparing for a long time for his first night as presenter.
The 31-year-old says he toured 40 states with the aim of “learning America”.
He made his American television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African comedian to do so.
Noah made his first appearance on The Daily Show in December as an on-air contributor offering his outsider’s perspective on the US.
Vlismas believes Noah has the perfect combination of charm, wit, looks and ambition to do well on the show.
“Obviously, I’m not expecting him to replace Jon Stewart, but to stamp the show with his own flavour.
“I have no doubt he’ll do that well and he’ll have the support of an excellent team.
“Trevor certainly had a huge impact on the local scene, and changed the game early on and at high speed.”
He was surprised when Noah was announced as the host of The Daily Show “because of the traditional reaction of American viewers to foreign talent on their main media platforms”, Vlismas said.
“I hope he changes the game on that level. It would be a major shift in old thinking.”
Vlismas said the US Ambassador has invited him to watch Noah’s first show.
One of Noah’s good friends, fellow comedian Robby Collins, said he was thrilled.
“When I met Trevor I knew he was funny. He was confident and knew exactly what he was doing when it came to being on stage.
“It took me some time to see how great he was because he’s a close friend. Sometimes when you’re so close to something you don’t see its true beauty.
“Every year he’s come back from the States I’ve seen a change. I’ve seen a funnier person. When I heard he was the new host of The Daily Show I wasn’t surprised. I was just shocked at how quickly it took him to conquer the comedy world.”
Collins believes that his pal will make an easy transition to host of the show.
“Trevor is a perfectionist. He will be fine. He is the hardest-working person I have met. And one of the kindest. When you give a lot, you are bound to get something back.”
Collins believes Noah has given the South African comedy circle a big boost.
“He’s made us cool. When people used to think of comedy in South Africa they used to think of Leon Schuster. Now people know there are actually funny people out there.”
Comedy Central Africa is expecting a record viewership when Noah goes on air on Tuesday.
“This is not just because people love Trevor, but because we are opening the channel to Compact for the first week of his debut,” said Comedy Central head Evert van der Veer.
Comedy Central Africa was proud to see an African presenting the biggest satirical comedy show in the world.
“It’s exciting for a South African comedian to have this kind of exposure and it can only be good for the profile of South African comedy.
“It puts a whole new perspective on the show and invites South African audiences in as never before.”