Slice of Life: The Thoughtful Comedy of Trevor Noah

I remember the exact moment I knew I was going to love Trevor Noah. There’s a moment in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” when Seinfeld asks Noah how he could laugh coming from the background he did (“born a crime” as he was during the apartheid in South Africa to a black mother and a Swiss father). And Noah goes, well it was either that or be angry all the time. (I wish I could transcribe the exact conversation but the episode can’t seem to load on my browser)

I’m not a devotee of “The Daily Show” but I’ve seen quite a few of the episodes with Noah, attended one of his tapings, and also his stand-ups which I think are just brilliant. For the longest time the best way I’ve been able to put into words about what I like the best about Noah is that his comedy is inclusive, rather than being divisive.

Imagine my delight then, when serendipitously enough, he expands on this very point in his conversation with Chris Johnson in yesterday’s Live From NYPL session. Johnson isn’t sure how to put it into words either—he asks Noah about this sense he has of Noah’s comedy being “kind,” and the response that Noah gives to that gave me all the delights.

His answer to the identity question is another that made sense to me, and also kind of made me realize why I’ve always felt a little ho-hum about stories that seem to be motivated primarily by this question. (I’m not sure why it’s never been a question that’s bothered me much. Maybe that’s partly ‘cus of my spiritual background and roots. For me the answer to who I am has always been more inward-focused than stemming from the labels that grease our interactions in society.)

The whole session was awesome but Noah’s answers to the last few audience questions is exactly the reason why I love, love, love his stuff!

All of which is my way of saying, please go and see the session. It’s just really, really good: https://livestream.com/nypl/events/7081860

And now, I cannot wait to read his book!

(Oh and if you haven’t already, check out his new Netflix release. It’s worth watching.)

Note: This was inspired by The Annual Slice of Life Challenge, and by the thoughtful comedy of Trevor Noah

Update: A commenter pointed out that the link only has about 12 seconds of music right now. Since other live sessions from recent past are fully available on the livestream website, I’m guessing it’s just a matter of time before this one is available too. I’ll update this update once it is fully available.