NEW YORK — He spends his days lampooning Donald Trump and the other U.S. presidential candidates. So what does “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah think of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
“You mean other than being completely in love with him?”
Noah is speaking to a group of international reporters gathered on the set of his series, seen Monday to Thursday at 11 p.m. ET on The Comedy Network and repeated at midnight on CTV.
“I try to find his flaws daily,” says the 32-year-old South African. “And then I see him doing a perfect peacock yoga pose on a table, and the next day speaking about quantum physics.”
Adds Noah: “No person is supposed to be that cool and handsome. He’s a boxer as well. He’s just ridiculous!”
“The Daily Show” is so enamoured with Trudeau they sent comedy correspondent Hasan Minhaj to Ottawa for an interview inside Parliament’s historic library. (Look for the report in about a week).
“He can do bits, man,” says Minhaj, who was as impressed with Trudeau’s comedy chops as he is with his embrace of Syrian refugees.
“He was at the airport greeting them,” says Minhaj, amazed that “a country one-tenth the size of the U.S. is taking in ten times the amount of refugees.”
Noah is an even bigger fan of the prime minister and says Trudeau has made it harder for the American presidential hopefuls.
“It’s like living next door to somebody who is married to the perfect spouse and then you look at the person you’re with every day and you go, ‘How the hell did this happen?”’
Nine months into the job, Noah is dealing with his own comparisons. The main one, of course, is with his wildly admired “Daily Show” predecessor Jon Stewart. Yes, ratings have dipped since Stewart’s star-studded exit, Noah concedes.
“It makes sense,” he argues. “If my ratings weren’t down, I’d be offended on behalf of Jon Stewart, because it would make sense that people are going to see out the king.”
Sitting before the press, flanked by producers and castmates, Noah makes it clear that he is in this game of late night thrones for the long haul. TV ratings as a whole in North America are down this season, he notes. “The Daily Show” digital streaming numbers, however, have more than doubled.
Noah sees himself as part of a wave of millennials “who are ahead of themselves in creating new metrics.” He’s moved “The Daily Show” into the Snapchat era, scoring millions of hits on social media.
And then there’s the international picture. “The Daily Show” is now in 170 territories worldwide, up 20 from Stewart’s prime. Noah jets to Dubai this weekend to promote the show in that region.
Noah says the hardest thing he’s had to learn over the first nine months at “The Daily Show” has been to enjoy himself more.
“That’s the one thing no one tells you to do,” he says. His goal now is just to hear guests tell him they had a great time, an endorsement he recently got from Ben Stiller.
Echoing Stewart, Noah says the focus is still on the jokes, not the news. He has no agenda to change the world, just to make viewers laugh. He’s proud the show is now riffing on more international headlines, but understands there’s still an “America First” policy in play.
While Stewart’s sit-down shtick featured plenty of mugging, restless Noah stands and delivers the opening headlines. Getting physical and striding across stages is a key part of Noah’s act, as evidenced last summer in Montreal at the Just for Laughs comedy festival. His stand-up can be seen on June 4 when “JFL: All Access” returns for a fourth season on The Comedy Network.
The fit comedian has to keep moving, not just to shake the ghost of Stewart but also the legacies of former “Daily Show” correspondents such as longtime Canadian contributor Samantha Bee.
“Samantha Bee is fierce,” he says, praising her new TBS series “Full Frontal.” John Oliver, he says, is equally incredible on HBO. Noah is also a big fan of Larry Wilmore.
He says all their new shows have a place in late night. “That’s what makes it great — multiple voices.”
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont. While in New York, Brioux was a guest of The Comedy Network.