I was one of those overly ironic Gen Xers who stopped watching the Daily Show after Jon Stewart retired and a millennial took over. So I didn’t know much about Trevor Noah other than the occasional YouTube clip that made its way across my social media feeds. But what a life! It’s difficult to believe all that has happened to this guy in such a short amount of time.

I started reading the first third of this book on my Kindle and then switched over to the audiobook, which is the way I should have gone from the beginning. Trevor’s performance in the audiobook version is laugh out loud funny, even while I was listening on my bike.

After finishing the book, I was burning with curiosity to learn more about the author, so I did my usual internet stalking. I came away even more impressed at how he has remained humble, relatable, and decent in spite of all the success. Just check out these three clips:

  1. Trevor describing to his audience a recent trip to South Africa in between recording segments for the Daily Show:
  1. Trevor interviewing his grandma in her Soweto home, where he spent much of his childhood:
  1. And a heartwarming applause for Trevor by South Africa’s president and parliament:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Trevor Noah continues to record short segments of the Daily Show from his apartment and he’s quietly covering the salaries of his furloughed employees out of his own pocket. His foundation has paused their educational activities in South Africa and continues to donate money to Food Forward for food security for poor communities.

Despite very different childhoods in very different places, I was surprised by how much I personally related to Noah:

  • Growing up feeling like we don’t belong in any one group, but that we’re able to adapt to all groups
  • Growing up with a strong single mother; being a product of her search for meaning and love
  • But then being an strong-willed child focused on our own independence and autonomy
  • Performed poorly in school, too independent and contrarian, picking apart logical inconsistencies in rules and religion
  • Spending a lot of time alone, in our heads, without needing others to be entertained
  • The bad habit of getting to know people by asking them questions rather than spending time with them

Trevor Noah comes across as so ridiculously wise from such an unusual upbringing that it’s difficult to grasp that he’s just 36-years-old. But there are still some hints of youthfulness: his penchant for young Armenian models, the fact that the board of his foundation is made up of his tax guy and an Armenian reality TV star. But then, that makes him all the more relatable and human.

I look forward to spending more time with Trevor Noah’s Daily Show and following his career. Highly recommended audio book.

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