Backstage at The Daily Show: Students talk with TV personality

By Gianluca D’Elia

A group of 50 students and faculty members met comedian and TV host Trevor Noah and sat behind the scenes of a taping of The Daily Show in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 8. The episode appeared on Comedy Central later that night. The trip was part of Rider’s Shared Read Program, which used Noah’s memoir “Born a Crime” as this year’s novel.

When comedian Angelo Lozada asked a female in the audience where she goes to school, he was surprised when 50 members of the audience started cheering for Rider University, briefly interrupting his warm-up routine before The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in a small Manhattan, New York TV studio.

As part of this year’s Shared Read Program, which is centered around Noah’s autobiography “Born a Crime,” a group of 50 Rider students, faculty and administrators were part of the audience in a taping of Noah’s show on Comedy Central. Though Noah is best known as a comedian, his book explores some of the darkest times he experienced in his childhood while growing up in the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa.

“[Noah] is a great comedian and was so funny in person,” said senior philosophy major Emmanuel Rivera. “The shared read was a great choice this year, and it was thoughtful of the school to take us to New York to see the show live, to see the man behind the story and be able to connect the dots. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to participate in a live taping of a show you watch regularly.”

Before starting the show, Noah took a few minutes to chat with the audience and answer questions. One of the two questions he took came from school counseling graduate student Kait Reed, who asked him what he missed most about his home country.

He told her,  “I miss that you could switch between speaking six different languages in one sentence,” noting that when his South African friends visit him in New York, they do it as a joke to confuse his American friends.

“It was super cool to talk to someone who I not only admire, but to know more about his experience and his story,” Reed said after the taping. “It was cool to talk about that with him, and his answer was so genuine and smart.”

Noah’s show, which is often centered around political humor, happened to be relevant to New Jersey on the day Rider students visited. Wednesday’s show focused heavily on the elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Noah made fun of Democrat Phil Murphy’s dramatic leap onto a stage when he was announced as the winner, and he also showed a montage of some of Gov. Chris Christie’s most embarrassing moments while in office, concluding with a postcard of Christie’s infamous beach chair photo and a message that read, “Thanks for the memories.”

Noah said karma was the biggest winner in last week’s election. He pointed out that in Atlantic County, local mental health professional Ashley Bennett ran for a county freeholder seat against incumbent John Carman, who made a sexist joke about the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last spring.

“I think it was a great shoutout for what’s happening in politics at home in Jersey,” Rivera said. “It’s a great example of the shift that’s going in politics right now.”

Noah also discussed Danica Roem’s election to the Virginia House of Delegates. The former newspaper reporter and openly transgender woman ran against the incumbent Bob Marshall, who has referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and supported anti-LGBT bills during his time in office.

“That’s not just insulting to gay people, it’s also insulting to other homophobes — you don’t own the movement, bro,” Noah joked. “It’s a democracy.”

Reed said it was interesting to get a feeling of Noah’s personality during the taping.

“The most interesting thing, at least how I perceived it, was how human and low-key Trevor Noah was — in-between takes, he’d dance around or talk to the audience,” she said. “He wasn’t a diva. He was cracking jokes, and it was entertaining all the way through. I knew I’d like seeing the show, but now I have a newfound respect for him.”

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