In what has become something of an initiation ritual for prominent people in the Internet age, as soon as Comedy Central announced that Trevor Noah would be taking over as host of The Daily Show after Jon Stewart’s retirement, people started digging through his Twitter feed for evidence of past misdeeds. What they found was this:
There’s more. Noah (whose mother, it must be noted, is a half-Jewish black Xhosa South African) seems to have a special penchant for Jewish jokes, including cringeworthy #BeatsByDreidel punchlines, rote observations about the reluctance of Jewish women to perform fellatio, and this bit about the irony of hitting a Jewish child with a German car:
I know, right? You drive an import, Noah, we get it. Quit bragging. Anyway, these tweets—among others—have resulted in the now-similarly ritualized gauntlet of anonymous chastisement and accusations of bigotry that comes with these sorts of revelations. Others are coming to Noah’s defense, saying that, essentially, he’s a comedian and jokes are what he does, so what if some of them are about Jews and white women’s butts?
It’s a complex and sensitive debate, and we’re not going to tell you what to think about Trevor Noah as a person or as a Daily Show host. We will say, though, that these jokes are all pretty hacky and we hope Noah’s improved his joke-writing skills since then. Maybe not though—Noah’s response, which he posted earlier today and swiftly deleted, is pretty weak, both from an apology and a wordplay standpoint:
UPDATE: Comedy Central has issued a statement on today’s online kerfuffle, saying, “Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.” Your move, Twitter.
UPDATE, 5:30 p.m. CT: Noah has also chimed in on Twitter, saying not to judge him as a person by a handful of jokes cherry-picked from his Twitter feed: