Few celebrities would draw a crowd as large as Trevor Noah during a busy Friday lunch hour in the workplace. However, thousands of folks jammed the room for a chance to hear Trevor passionately speak about his atypical childhood living in South Africa, a time filled with challenges that few of us have experienced. Born to a black mother and a white father, who left the family quickly, his tough upbringing in a society where he didn’t quite fit anywhere shaped who he is and how he views the world. He was a fascinating and animated storyteller describing scenes from his new book, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood”, a memoir of the observations of his childhood in a country when apartheid was unraveling.
Drafting off the “celebrity” status of a friend of mine who scored us front row seats, I got to view the talk up close and personal with no obstructions. Thank you my friend! Being that close allowed me to really observe the facial expressions and hand gestures of a wildly entertaining comedian who not only elaborated on his book but also shared his views on the craziest election any of us have ever seen but one that he predicted. How might you ask could anyone foretell the “Coming of Trump”? Growing up in a third world country, Trevor saw first hand how leaders would prey on people’s fears and anger, championing their darkest prejudices out loud in simple-to-understand sound bites. Trevor told colleagues early on that Trump would go far in the election process given that he was a reality TV star of questionable morals who knew how to speak and connect to these uninformed voters, lying and promising them whatever they wanted, playing the “outsider” vs. the government who has forgotten about them and their economic struggles.
Similar to what Gloria Steinem told the audience when I saw her recently in Boise, Trevor also was emphatic that this segment of society that is following Trump won’t go away after the election no matter who wins and will need to be heard and their issues addressed for the country to heal and move forward. He also suggested that what the U.S. needs is more than 2 parties to allow for more choices. Should Bernie run as a Democrat? No-he’s a socialist. Should Trump run as a Republican? No-he’s a nut but also probably a nationalist or alt-right candidate. I get it but not sure this change will happen anytime soon.
Trevor elaborated on his other observations from this election cycle: watching Trump move forward in the primaries was like having a front seat row to a “charismatic car crash” and that if he were elected, it would “press pause on all progress” that Obama has made the last eight years. That people like Trump can “create” facts on the internet that people believe as gospel is flat out scary to Trevor. The public is “engaged in a bubble of misinformation” the likes of which we have never seen before in the U.S. Trevor takes his job seriously on The Daily Show because, as one attendee related during the Q & A, most millennials get ALL their news from The Daily Show. To that comment, Trevor said, “Comedy is the spoonful of sugar to make the news go down.” and “Laughter is the medication to get through it.”
While I enjoy comedy and, God knows we all need to laugh more, the stress of this election has been hard to take even when delivered by a comedian as smart and funny as Trevor. Tuesday it will all be over. Vote.
The Seattle Times review today of Trevor’s book was very flattering-read here: Book Review