Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia, may not focus on his mother strongly, but it does help you understand how her perspective allowed him to be open to the weirdness of life.
|Director(s)||David Paul Meyer|
|Genre(s)||Stand Up Comedy|
|Good If You Like||International Perspective on American Life|
Traveling While Black Stories
America v. The Rest of The World Stories
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As with previous specials, the heart of Trevor’s story is comparing and contrasting what it was like to be Black and grow up in South Africa and be a Black person throughout the world – specifically the United States. He talks about his first experience with tacos, traveling to Bali with some white friends, even meeting Obama. Though, of course, what comic isn’t going to have some Trump jokes? Of which are scattered throughout. Never too long to annoy you or so overdone it makes your eyes roll.
But, the gist of this special is, Trevor’s mom prepared him well for a world unlike his own. One which may not always be so welcoming of him. Yet, with those tools, and a bit of a curiosity about life and how other people live it, he helps us understand how ridiculous people can be. Especially when they attempt to make life harder for others just because.
What you have to love the most about Trevor Noah is he is not a punchline comic. The point of his stories aren’t to build up to a big laugh and then to move on. He is truly a storyteller and goes into the weirdness of people, the way they act around and to him, and he crafts it in a way that is funny. Almost to the point of needing to question if he embellished at all or was this person just being their everyday weird selves.
The Snakes of Bali, The Taco Truck, Rochester, and The Racist in Chicago
Take the stories above. Whether talking about this French man during a snake show in Bali or a man whose home he enters, as part of a tour, Noah knows how to tap into a weird situation. Even in terms of being called the N-word in Chicago, thanks to the way his mom raised him, you realize she didn’t just give him a way to survive but find the comedy in life’s situations. If not how to make something which could be scary, like being called an N-word, for you don’t know what may follow, into a joke a theater, and viewers at home, can laugh at.
Lost In Translation
One of the best tools in Noah’s bag, when it comes to comedy, is he has a very interesting and unique position. He is Black, understands and can assimilate into Black American culture, but he is Black by means of Africa – specifically South Africa. So while Apartheid and American racism are similar, they are different. While some American lingo is familiar, they don’t always have the same meaning. Take the American equivalent to their N-word. In the Xhosa language, the pronunciation would make people think you mean “To Give.” Something Noah uses to build upon a joke he tells earlier.
With that, you can see the sort of cultural exchange he went through and how developing an understanding of Black American culture, as an African, wasn’t hard but came with road bumps. Thus making the special as much about comedy as it is understanding that Black Americans weren’t alone in their struggle. The only difference is there were certain things that were different. Not to say one was better or worse, but Black American’s distant cousins get it. Especially when they decide to come for a visit or live.
Overall: Positive (Watch This) | Watch on Netflix
What you have to love about Trevor Noah is he has his own lane. While, yes, a lot of his comedy is about being Black, it doesn’t feel like a mask he wears to avoid speaking about the person behind the ethnicity. Also, his Blackness is just to inform you why he has the perspective he has. It isn’t the sum of his person. Heck, even his mother, who heavily informed who he is, isn’t the sum of his person. Instead, as Noah goes from one story to the next, you realize that his mom, being Black, from South Africa, etc., are just part of his foundation. He is on a journey to not let those things be the foundation and the entire structure that is his life.
Which is why his stories and jokes are so funny and why this is being labeled positive. What Noah gives you is a piece of himself rather than a bunch of jokes for the sole purpose of making you laugh. Jokes that seem to be as alive as the notecards or prompter when he is over on The Daily Show. These jokes are the kind which push you to want others to experience the laugh vs. repeat the joke for others to consume. For these jokes and stories wholly belong to Noah and help you understand why he has the platform he has and why he isn’t, thankfully, going anywhere.
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