Noah came under fire when people started digging deep into his Twitter feed and found several years’ worth of jokes that some deemed racist, sexist and anti-Semitic. Some called for the comedian, who is set to replace Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show next season, to be fired before he even began — but Comedy Central is not having it.
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” the network said in a statement released today. “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
More: 7 Reasons Trevor Noah will be a great Daily Show host
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has extended his cautious support to Noah as well — with a caveat.
“We understand that comedians often use humor to poke fun at stereotypes,” Foxman said, “and to push the envelope of political correctness, and it seems that many if not most of the tweets sent by Trevor Noah over the years fall into those categories.
“We hope he will not cross the line from legitimate satire into offensiveness with jokes calling up anti-Semitic stereotypes and misogyny,” Foxman warned. “And we hope that he and Comedy Central will make a conscious effort to ensure that The Daily Show remains funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews, other minorities and women.”
Last night, Noah tweeted, then quickly deleted, “Twitter does not have enough characters to respond to all the characters on Twitter.”
Other than that, he has yet to respond to the controversy directly, but did pin this tweet from February at the top of his feed.
Often, people who can do, don’t because they’re afraid of what people that can’t do will say about them doing.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) February 13, 2015
Update: Noah finally addressed the controversy himself.
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015