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'Daily Show' host Trevor Noah performing at Lucy Fest in Jamestown

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courtesy Lucille Ball Comedy Festival
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He grew up in Apartheid-era South Africa as the child of mixed-race parents. He later became best known as the comedian who replaced longtime Daily Show host Jon Stewart. Trevor Noah is performing in Jamestown Friday evening as part of the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown.

Noah is one of three headlining comics performing at the festival. His show is sold out.

WBFO recently interviewed Noah, one-on-one, in a telephone interview. He explained that while growing up in South Africa under Apartheid, information was restricted and, thus, he was unable to enjoy many of the American television comedies that inspired many other comedians. Years later, though, he was introduced to such comedies online, including the work of Lucille Ball.

"My girlfriend always tells me to watch some of the funniest stuff from sitcoms," Noah said. "I try and go back and watch as much as I can. Some of it is still hilarious."

His American influences include Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Neal Brennan and Bill Burr.

The comedian Noah may be best connected to is Jon Stewart, who hosted the Daily Show from 1999 until August 2015. Replacing Stewart, Noah admits, is both a high honor and high pressure.

"Jon Stewart was the conscience of America, the most trusted man in America as I remember on Time Magazine," Noah said. "Jon turned the Daily Show from just another show - and it was at the time very popular with Craig Kilborn - into the counterbalance to what the cable news networks were doing."

Stewart famously called out those news networks in a televised exchange with CNN Crossfire commentator Tucker Carlson in 2004, during which time Stewart implied that specific shows and hosts were encouraging divisiveness.

Given Noah's background, it's perhaps little surprise that he has no fondness for the tone of presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign. He explained how he and other comedians take on the politics of the day.

"It essentially feels like you've been called up for duty. You all have to focus on something that is happening," he explained. "Whether it is Donald Trump, or in South Africa it was an Apartheid government, or when it's the government that's corrupt, it's when you have to focus all your energies on this one goal.

"I don't see it as a good thing, per se. It's just that we have a platform, we have an opportunity to contribute positively to the conversation, so let's do that."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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