Trevor Noah talks tolerance, patience in new special

Courtesy of Netflix
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, returns to stand-up with more stories about growing up in South Africa.

11/29/18

Neil Runge | Staff Writer

Witty, clever and thought provoking are just a few words to describe Trevor Noah’s new Netflix stand-up comedy special Son of Patricia.

The current host of The Daily Show, Noah has proven that he knows how to handle politics and more sensitive topics in a way that’s both educational and hilarious.

In his new special, Noah makes jokes about the language barrier between America and South Africa, the country he was born in. One of the funniest bits of the show is near the end when Noah tells a story about being called the n-word. In his mother’s language of Xhosa, it’s a verb that means to give and in South Africa that word doesn’t hold any power. So to Noah, that word wasn’t harmful; It was nostalgic.

Noah’s skills in storytelling are astounding. He draws the crowd in on a tangent in the middle of a bit and before anyone can suspect a thing, he wraps the bit up with a beautiful punchline in the shape of a bow, like all of his jokes are gifts.

Having a comedian like Noah is also refreshing. In the midst of a time where people are fighting for more diversity and less offensive comedic material, Noah is a solution to both problems. He takes the classic approach to stand up comedy and combines it with jokes that make the audience think about racism, their own culture and, at times, their own childhoods.

Noah’s traditional stand up appearance, wearing a t-shirt and jeans and standing on an undecorated stage, is basic. It’s a simple set up that’s a blank canvas for his exaggerated voices and sometimes over the top movements as he talks about the past presidents and growing up in apartheid.

The title of the special comes from a story about his mom, Patricia. Having faced racism as a child, he asked his mother what to do when someone confronts him in a racist way. His mom told him to face his oppressors with kindness. As Noah grew up he learned to understand that lesson more. Noah told the audience that when faced with bigotry, he’s kind because he “doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing [him] hurt or angry.”

Under all of the jokes and impersonations, there’s a powerful lesson about how to treat each other. What Noah subtly teaches audiences is that everyone has a different life story, so why not be kind or just try to learn about their culture.

Son of Patricia is a delightful comedy special that manages to make you think and teaches you about life. It’s both heartwarming and serious. It also brings a new perspective on America and racism from a person of color that grew up with a different type of oppression.

 

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