Whether you were brave enough to take a night out before the Ironman, bold enough to wake up from your post-football nap or just a huge fan of South African accents, “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah was at the Orpheum Saturday night.
Performing to a packed crowd for almost two hours, Noah spoke of the current tumultuous presidential election, how Rihanna has the commanding presence of a white male and why the “Happy Birthday” tune sounds morbid to anyone who does not speak English.
Throughout the set, Trevor Noah did what he does best: He bridged the prevalent topics like racism, sexism and immigration with charmingly innovative satire. It was not at all unusual for the crowd to erupt in laughter over a bit about European colonialism and then be hit with a heavy dose of reality.
As Noah’s set got rolling, one of the first crowd favorites was when he explored the expression, “Don’t be a pussy.” Noah established the pure absurdity of the mainstreamed phrase by comparing the weakness of the male genitalia to the strength of a female’s. “If you just sit on a penis wrong it breaks…but pussies end wars and start revolutions. Not to mention, human beings come out of there,” Noah explained. He was met with hoots and snaps from the audience including University of Wisconsin-Madison seniors McKenna, 21, and Brody, 21, who both agreed that this was their favorite moment of the show.
“It was so empowering,” McKenna said.
The second most popular—and definitely the longest—bit of the night was when Noah imagined what the first conversation between Nelson Mandela and President Barack Obama might have sounded like. In order to not “scare the white people,” Noah imagined that Mandela met President Obama in a private hotel room when the President was still a junior senator. It was in this hotel room in which Mandela taught President Obama to speak slower “because no one is chasing you anymore,” exercise a deeper tone and achieve the perfect husk in order to “drip swag”—from one black president to another.
As a young senator, Obama was supposedly panicked and repeatedly stated “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” In response, a cool Mandela turned to Sen. Obama and said “Yes, we can.” The rest, according to Noah’s imagination, is history.
Though I am an avid fan of “The Daily Show” and Trevor Noah in particular, I thought his show could have easily packed a stronger punch in less time if he would have exercised his ability to edit. Far too many times I found myself waiting for him to move on to the next subject even though he had prepared five more minutes of the same scenario. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that Noah mentioned being tired after driving through the night, but at times it felt as if he too, was looking for a light at the end of the tunnel.
For example, the Nelson Mandela and President Obama joke took Noah almost an alarming 10 minutes. Because of this length, I believe too many of his jokes fell flat. Do not get me wrong, he is a funny guy with important insights into the world around us—a comedian born to a black mother and white father in the middle of South Africa’s apartheid who stumbled into comedy and has since taken the world by storm—but man, get to the point.
Until the next time Trevor Noah almost sells out The Orpheum, he can be found on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah Monday through Thursday at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.