NEW YORK (Reuters) – If you want to get a flavor of Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show,” just take a look at his first guests – especially singer Ryan Adams.
Not only is Adams an alternative musician, poet and painter, but he’s also just released an innovative cover version of Taylor Swift’s best-selling album “1989.”
“He has taken something that was loved and cherished by many and created a new version of it for himself. And people have gone ‘Wow! That is actually amazing’,” Noah told reporters.
That’s just what the 31 year-old South African-born comedian hopes to do with “The Daily Show” as he steps on Monday into the role vacated in August after 16 years by the popular Jon Stewart.
Noah moved to the United States in 2011 and remains largely an unknown quantity to most Americans despite his eight months as a contributor to the satirical Comedy Central late night program during Stewart’s reign.
He knows the pressure is on but plans to take things slowly, saying there will be changes in style rather than structure.
“I look at ‘The Daily Show’ as a beautiful house I have inherited… I don’t plan to break anything initially,” he said.
But there will be more music and a wider range of guests, all of which were carefully chosen in the opening week to embody the new tone of the show, Noah said.
Monday sees a visit by comedian Kevin Hart (“because it’s a comedy show first and foremost.. and Hart has broken the boundaries of color”); Tuesday features Whitney Wolfe, the founder and CEO of dating app Bumble (a new, female voice in a tech world); while on Wednesday, Noah gets his teeth into politics with New Jersey Governor and White House contender Chris Christie (a Republican). Adams closes out the first week on Thursday.
While Stewart wore his left-leaning politics on his sleeve, Noah says he is neither left nor right wing.
As the son of a white Swiss father and a black South African mother whose union was illegal under South Africa’s apartheid system, he says he has always felt like an outsider.
As such, he can spot the eccentricities of American culture and politics without – so far – having developed the kind of targets Stewart had.
“I don’t have targets yet,” he said. “I get to forge my own relationships and discover who I will get to loathe.”
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Christian Plumb)