US TV debut for Trevor Noah

[Image] Award-winning local stand-up comedian
Trevor Noah will be the first South
African and African to appear on
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
(Image: yomzansi.com)

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Award-winning local stand-up comedian Trevor Noah will be the first South African – and African – to appear on the popular late-night American talk show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

A chance to perform a comedy act on The Tonight Show, which is watched by millions of people every day, is a major career break for Noah and puts the spotlight on South Africa’s comedy talent.

He got lucky when he was spotted by the show’s scouts who were searching for talented performers to appear on the show. After a tough audition process, he was selected as one of the comedians to perform on the show.

In an interview on Talk Radio 702, Noah says it is a great honour to appear on a show that has such a huge following in many countries.

“Having this appearance on my credentials will put me head and shoulders above many comedians. Many American comedians haven’t even been on the show,” he says.

Noah is in illustrious company, as other famous comedians who have appeared on The Tonight Show include Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Steven Wright, Roseanne Barr and Joan Rivers.

Telling the story of South Africa

Noah first made a name for himself performing for South African audiences and he has often been seen on stage with some of South Africa’s funniest people, such as Riaad Moosa, Darren Simpson, Marc Lottering and the ever-popular Barry Hilton.

Recently Noah became closely associated with mobile services provider Cell C, as its “customer experience officer”, a personality developed as part of the company’s new brand identity. His job was to represent consumers, keep the company on its toes and assist them in understanding the needs of their subscribers.

He has also received awards for his ability to get people laughing. At the South African Comedy Awards in 2008 he was the winner in the Best Breakthough Act category.

For the past six months, he has been touring the US, entertaining American audiences with his signature brand of stand-up comedy.

He says that most of what he talks about, even to American audiences, is about South Africa. His act for The Tonight Show will be no different.

“I love telling the story of South Africa whenever I travel the world. We have such an amazing history and telling my story, which is a tiny part of South Africa’s history, is a great joy for me,” he says.

In an interview with South African-born arts and entertainment journalist Nadia Neophytou, on her blog Miss Ntertainment, Noah says that he also hopes to use the opportunity to showcase South African comedy, which he believes is of a high standard.

“The truth is, there is good and bad comedy everywhere in world. In South Africa we have international quality comedy,” he says.

In preparation for his appearance on the show, he has been performing at comedy clubs and shows across the US to perfect his five-minute set.

“I have bouts of nervousness, but it is a great opportunity to be on a show like this. I am as ready as I can be,” he says.

Trevor Noah’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Show will air in the US tonight, and be broadcast on CNBC Africa (DStv channel 410) on Tuesday 10 January at 21:00.