Trevor Noah

South African comedian and former television host

Trevor Noah (born 20 February 1984) is a South African comedian, television host, actor, and political commentator. From 2015 to 2022, he hosted The Daily Show, an American satirical news program on Comedy Central.

For any comedian, your life informs your point of view, the way you see the world.


Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy. And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities. If you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what's happening in Ukraine.
  • So weird, how our prejudices have given everyone their lane. Middle Easterner does something, they're a terrorist. Black person does something, they're gang-related, they're a thug. But if a white guy walks into a church killing nine people there, what do they lead with on the news? "And today, in an isolated incident, a lone gunman walked into a church opening fire and killing nine people." It's always a lone gunman. "A lone gunman with no ties to society whatsoever". They always separate them as quickly as possible.
    • Lost in Translation (2015)
  • We drink to enjoy. The Scottish drink to die.
    • Afraid of the Dark (2017)
  • For me, Donald Trump is an emotional paradox, I'm not gonna lie. Logically, I can process him, emotionally, I struggle. On the one hand, I will admit, I wake up many days terrified at the notion that he's president of the most powerful nation in the world. But I also must admit, I wake up many days knowing he's gonna make me laugh. There's terror and there's joy and I don't know how to feel. You know what it feels like sometimes? It feels like there's a giant asteroid headed towards the earth, but it's shaped like a penis. Like, I think I'm gonna die, but I know I'm gonna laugh.
    • Son of Patricia (2018)
  • You don't go to South Africa to escape racism. That's where you go to stock up. Are you kidding me, that's the one thing that reminds me of home. The racism out here.
    • Son of Patricia (2018)
  • For any comedian, your life informs your point of view, the way you see the world. My comedy comes through the prism of race or class, because those are two worlds that collided for me growing up. And I guess that’s served me well, because those themes cross over countries and continents. We’re all still dealing with those issues today.
  • I think the most important thing is to instantly give them a sense of who you are and how you feel in that moment. If a speaker is nervous and tells the audience that, people immediately contextualize it and respond accordingly. If a performer is in a good mood or feeling wild and crazy and says so, I’ve found, the crowd will be good at matching that energy. So for me, the rapport is built by a genuineness conveyed as quickly as possible.
  • The weird thing is, I always say to people, "When you're poor, being poor sucks. But being poor together makes it a lot better." Right? Because you're in it together. And it doesn't discount the fact that you don't have much. But then you start to enjoy the things that you do have. And that is each other. And so we laughed. We enjoyed ourselves. We had something that sometimes you don't have when you have too much. And that is the ability to focus on the human beings around you.
    • Reflection on living in Soweto, as quoted in The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose (2019), p. 169
  • Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see King T’Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase: Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka, which means: ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.’
    • At the Oscars. The Xhosa phrase used by Trevor Noah in this quote was a purposeful mistranslation with the correct translation being: "White people don't know that I'm lying. Can be found under "Trevor Noah's fake translation"
    • (February 24th, 2019)
  • …I like to think that I am the product of a world of impossibilities. You know, my mother is where she should have never been. I think my mother made greater leaps than I have ever made. It's just that her leaps were made within her world and so maybe don't seem as grand. But I think my family, myself, my country, we come from a place where we have achieved the impossible…
  • Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy. And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities. If you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what's happening in Ukraine. Look at what's happening there. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what's really happening.
    You realize how amazing it is. Like in America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or readers uncomfortable. Do you understand how amazing that is?
    I stood here tonight and I made fun of the President of the United States, and I'm going to be fine. — I'm going to be fine, right?
    Like, do you really understand what a blessing it is? Maybe it's happened for so long that you — it might slip your mind, it's a blessing.
    In fact, here — ask yourself this question. Honestly ask yourself this question: If Russian journalists, who are losing their livelihoods ... and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing. If they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions. If they had, basically, what you have, would they be using it in the same way that you do? Ask yourself that question every day. Because you have one of the most important roles in the world.
  • I always believe that funny is serious and serious is funny. You don’t really need a distinction between them. If I’m doing something on stage and it evokes an emotion, then I might show that emotion, but I also don’t believe in being a preacher. If you have a point, that’s a bonus. But the funny has to come first, otherwise you shouldn’t call yourself a comedian.
  • Ben Carson: for people who like Donald Trump's ideas, but hate his charm and charisma. Ben Carson is like the drug free cocaine for people who don't wanna get high but just like snorting white powder.
  • Of course Ben Carson advisors can't make him smart, you can't change its brain. That's a job for a neurosurgeon. It's the same when your barber has a #### haircut.
  • Donald Trump didn't invent racism. Trump didn't invent islamophobia. And he didn't invent violence. All he did was put his name on them like he does with everything else.
  • Race jokes are kind of like orcas: powerful and entertaining, but you put them on display in the wrong environment and people are going to get hurt, and the joke might die. Like this one just did.
  • Hey, son, what the hell is with your haircut? Did you see a paintbrush and say "I want that dude's look!"?
  • The credits from the second Godfather are better than Godfather III.
  • Let's be honest: in general men are stronger than women. That's not sexist, it's just true. If anyone is sexist, it's Nature. Yeah, Nature is the one who was hanging stuff out and was like: "Ok, men, you get the big muscles and you orgasm every time you have sex. Hell, sometimes you have an orgasm just by accident! That's how easy it's gonna be for you! And for the ladies... you get to put an entire human being out of your vagina. Have a good day."
  • They're conflating sex talk and sexual assault talk, alright? Trying to make Trump's comments sound normal is not something that they're achieving, 'cause I'm sorry, that is not normal. There is a big difference between saying dirty words and glorifying non-consensual sexual contact. Not every guy has these conversations. No. That's a crime. There is a big difference. People are like, "oh, come on, guys talk dirty". Yeah, guys talk dirty, but guys are not all having conversations about sexual assault. It feels like more people are focused on "he said pussy". It's not about that. It's about him saying he forces himself on women. You tell me what's worse - a guy who says, "last night I dined with a lovely lady, and immediately afterwards, I escorted her back to her residence and proceeded to caress her genitals despite her lack of invitation." Or is this one worse - "oh man, last night I was rolling with this bad bitch, and I was like, "yo, you gonna let me smash that ass?", and she said "no", and I was like, "okay, no pussy for me"." Which one is worse? Now, don't get me wrong. Neither of them is ideal, but one of them is crude, and the other is against the law.
  • Welcome to the 2016 presidential election. If you're on TV and you say something that offends the nation, you're gonna lose your job. But don't worry, you can still run for president.
  • Have you ever argued with a toddler? Because if you have, you probably lost that argument, or you killed the toddler. Either way, you didn't win the argument, because you can't win an argument against a toddler. Toddlers will say the most outlandish shit. [...] Over the course of this election season, we've come to realize that president-elect Donald Trump might have the mind of a toddler. And if you think about it, it makes sense. He loves the same things that toddlers do. They like building things. They love attention, always grabbing things they're not supposed to. [...] You don't argue with a child if you want to win. Don't amplify the toddler's voice, because you'll just get trapped in the toddler's world. Rather, just keep asking the toddler to elaborate. Because logic is the downfall of every toddler. The point is to gently demoralize the toddler and smother his tantrums. And, as a bonus, stop him from delegitimizing the press.
  • Juggling is such a white thing, as well, when you think about it. No, just the whole concept. You have so much stuff that, at some point, you are like: "I can't even hold all of this stuff! I'll have to throw some of it in the air!" That's probably how juggling started. Someone was like: "Wow, you have three things, but you only have two hands. Would you like to share something with me?" "No, no, I'll figure this out".
  • He really is a TV president. [...] He loves the performance of doing things. But a lot of the time, nothing's actually being done. Essentially, Donald Trump wants to be president, but he doesn't want to do president.
  • Donald Trump sees the presidency the same way he sees one of his companies: its whole purpose is to serve him and only him. [...] the whole purpose of the Justice Department, which he thinks is not to uphold law. No, no, no, it's to do the president's bidding. The same way he probably thinks the purpose of the Energy Department is to charge his iPhone. [...] The only thing more shocking than his autocratic view of power is his willingness to talk so openly about it. In a strange way Donald Trump is both the most honest and dishonest president of all time. I figured it out, people. He's not cinnamon Hitler, he's Abraham Nixon.
  • Maybe we need to change who gets the Nobel Peace Prize, and when. Because so many people have won the prize and they've benefitted from all of its prestige, and then they've gone on to not be peaceful. Like, maybe we should only give the Nobel Peace Prize to people after their career is over and they've passed away, right? It's at the end. We can call it the "Rest in Peace Prize." Then we know you're not gonna surprise us, you're not gonna hurt anyone. Unless someone trips on your grave.
  • This idea that black people should be grateful is some sneaky-ass racism. Yeah, because when a white billionaire spends a year screaming that America is a disaster, he's in touch with the country. But when a black man kneels quietly, he should be grateful for the successes America has allowed him to have? [...] It almost feels like white people earn the money, but black people are given it.
  • You still haven't told us the right way for black people to protest. I mean, we know: it's wrong to do it in the streets, it's wrong to do it in the tweets. You cannot do it on the field, you cannot do it if you've kneelt. And don't do it if you're rich, you ungrateful son of a bitch. Because there's one thing that's a fact, you cannot protest if you're black.
  • This is what I find weird in these arguments, it's that people go "they're not African, they're French". Then I'm like, why can't they be both? Right? Why is that duality only afforded to a select group of people? Why can they not be African? So what they're arguing here is, in order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African?
  • This is what I find interesting, is, like, when I read stories from Africa and when I watch what politicians say, especially in France, about African migrants: When they are unemployed, when they may commit a crime or when they're considered unsavory, it's the African immigrants. When their children go on to provide a world cup victory for France, we should only refer to them as French.
  • Wait, what? White supremacists aren't a threat because they can only fill a college football stadium? My man, those stadiums hold a hundred thousand people. We shouldn't have enough white supremacists to fill a golf cart, that's how many we should have. [...] White supremacists are like babies on a plane, even one is enough to ruin your day.
  • I feel bad for anyone in private insurance who's scared of losing their job. But on the other hand, screw private insurance! I'm sorry, insurance companies are assholes.
  • And look, I don't know if I want to eat at a restaurant where everybody's armed. I mean, it's a fun gimmick, but you realize the second someone drops a plate, that place is turning into a Tarantino movie. I mean, it's still a restaurant, so you can't have bare feet, but otherwise, it's a Tarantino movie. But clearly, this person has an unhealthy fixation with guns.
  • [A friend] said to me, he said "You know, Trevor, one of the greatest lies they tell you in America, they tell you that-- they tell you that America is two political parties -- Republicans and Democrats", and he said, "But I'll tell you now, it's Republicans, Democrats, and it's black people and every other person of color who's trying to make a name or do something for themselves." And that stuck with me, and it made me think about American politics differently. Made me realize that we get tricked a lot of the time -- not just in America, but everywhere in the world -- into liking or not liking something based more on the tribe that it comes from, the tribe that it emanates from, than what the idea actually is.
  • The final lesson I learned at the show -- and I learned it not at the show, but because of the show and the news I was covering is -- please don't forget that the world is a friendlier place than the internet and the news will make you think?
  • If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.
    • page 6
  • In any society built on institutionalized racism, race-mixing doesn't merely challenge the system as unjust, it reveals the system as unsustainable and incoherent. Race-mixing proves that races can mix - and in a lot of cases, want to mix. Because a mixed person embodies that rebuke to the logic of the system, race-mixing becomes a crime worse than treason.
    • page 21
  • That’s how a police state works - everyone thinks everyone else is the police.
    • page 25
  • Growing up the way I did, I learned how easy it is for white people to get comfortable with a system that awards them all the perks. I knew my cousins were getting beaten for things that I'd done, but I wasn't interested in changing my grandmother's perspective, because that would mean I'd get beaten, too. Why would I do that? So that I'd feel better? Being beaten didn't make me feel better. I had a choice. I could champion racial justice in our home, or I could enjoy granny's cookies. I went with the cookies.
    • page 52/53
  • My mom raised me as if there were no limitations on where I could go or what I could do. When I look back I realize she raised me like a white kid - not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was my oyster, that I should speak up for myself, that my ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered.
    • page 73
  • As the outsider, you can retreat into a shell, be anonymous, be invisible. Or you can go the other way. You protect yourself by opening up. You don't ask to be accepted for everything you are, just the one part of yourself that you're willing to share. For me it was humor. I learned that even though I didn't belong to one group, I could be a part of of any group that was laughing.
    • page 140/141
  • People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.
    • page 188
  • People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.
    • page 190
  • Every country thinks their history is the most important, and that’s especially true in the West. But if black South Africans could go back in time and kill one person, Cecil Rhodes would come up before Hitler. If people in the Congo could go back in time and kill one person, Belgium’s King Leopold would come way before Hitler. If Native Americans could go back in time and kill one person, it would probably be Christopher Columbus or Andrew Jackson.
    • page 195
  • In the hood, even if you're not a hardcore criminal, crime is in your life in some way or another. There are degrees of it. It's everyone from the mom buying some food that fell off the back of a truck to feed her family, all the way up to the gangs selling military-grade weapons and hardware. The hood made me realize that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn't do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn't discriminate.
    • page 209
  • In society, we do horrible things to one another because we don't see the person it affects. We don't see their face. We don't see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place, to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight and out of mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human, they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don't see the ramifications of what we do to others, because we don't live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off. If we could see one another's pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.
    • page 222
  • The more time I spent in jail, the more I realized that the law isn’t rational at all. It’s a lottery. What color is your skin? How much money do you have? Who’s your lawyer? Who’s the judge?
    • page 238
  • Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It’s a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either hate them or love them, but that’s not how people are.
    • page 267
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