Daily Show host Trevor Noah was handpicked by former presenter Jon Stewart to take over his long-running daily comedy show back in 2015.
Ever since then, he’s been a runaway success. Some of you may not like him, but this is the plain and simple truth. This weekend however, he went dangerously off-script by releasing an 18-minute monologue with his ideas on the current state of rioting, protesting and looting in the US. Some of the commentaries made were clearly personal reflections which, however well thought out, could get him in trouble with sponsors.
Looting black bodies
The commentary released online has already gathered millions of views but even the liberal media site Huffington Post summarized it in the same manner as the rightwing Breitbart News did, by highlighting the phrase: ‘Police in America are looting black bodies,’ which is, to say the least, highly controversial.
Noah explained how Amy Cooper, the white woman in Central Park last week who called police to falsely accuse an African-American man, was just one of the many dominoes that led to the current state of affairs.
He said: ‘Try to imagine how it must feel for Black Americans when they watch themselves being looted every single day. Because that’s fundamentally what’s happening in America. Police in America are looting Black bodies. And I know someone might think that’s an extreme phrase, but it’s not.’
‘How many George Floyds are there that don’t die? How many men are having knees put on their necks? How many Sandra Blands are out there being tossed around?” asked the Daily Show Host. “It doesn’t make the news because it’s not grim enough. It doesn’t even get us anymore. It’s only the deaths, the gruesome deaths, that stick out.’
‘But imagine to yourself if you grew up in a community where every day someone had their knee on your neck? If every day someone was out there oppressing you, every single day, you tell me what that does to you as a society, as a community, as a group of people and when you know it’s happening because of the colour of your skin.’
Of course this becomes personal for the Daily Show host Noah who grew up in South Africa and witnessed how unfair a class divided society along racial lines really works, a life fantastically described in his book Born A Crime.
How does it help you to not loot Target?
The problem for Trevor of course is that he is no longer a comedian in South Africa who has full freedom of speech on a stage, but represents companies and sponsors now who pay to see their ads broadcast during the commercial breaks of his show being aired.
Therefore, commentary which seems to condone looting Target (11-minutes in), might stick out like a sore thumb in the end. Mimicking commenters who are critical of the protesters and rioters, Noah asks: ‘What good does it do to loot Target? How does it help you to loot Target?’ before responding ‘Yeah but how does it help you to not loot Target? Answer me that question. Because the only reason you didn’t loot Target before is because you were upholding society’s contract.’
We are not sure Comedy Central’s sponsors will agree.