Trevor Noah skewers American culture, politics at packed event

Feb. 26, 2017, 9:59 p.m.
Trevor Noah skewers American culture, politics at packed event
Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” packed Memorial Auditorium on Saturday (VEDI CHAUDHRI/The Stanford Daily)

On Saturday night, comedian and host of “The Daily Show” Trevor Noah addressed a full Memorial Auditorium for an hour of stand-up that ranged in topic from toilet humor to American culture.

Noah attracted thousands of students: The waiting line for Stanford community members extended beyond Memorial Auditorium and wrapped around Lathrop Library past Bing Concert Hall. Although the event was advertised as open to the public, no one from outside the Stanford community was ultimately allowed entry because students and their families, many of whom had to be turned away, were given priority.

Like his popular show, Noah’s routine was tinged with judgments on politics and society, including, after 42 “Trump-free” minutes, commentary on the newly-inaugurated president.

“Hatred has been given a megaphone,” Noah said. “An orange megaphone.”

For the last few minutes of the routine, Noah slowed the pace of the jokes and turned to more reflective topics, mixing humor with his political ideas for ending racism, which he called a “disease.”

“If we don’t treat racism, [it] has no way of ending,” Noah said. “Don’t worry about seeming racist, worry about being racist.”

Several students requested selfies and autographs during the question-and-answer portion of the night, while others tried to get Noah’s thoughts on issues such as the partisan divide of his viewership.

“I’d rather have fewer viewers… trying to pursue truth,” Noah said in response to a question about expanding past his primarily liberal audience.

Noah was both serious and jovial, at one point telling a woman filming his routine on her phone that she “could be outside” with all those who had waited.

Even the American diet did not escape Noah’s humor.

“Here, the question is, ‘How do I get the food while I’m still in the car?’” Noah said. “Other places, people ask, ‘How do I get the food?’”

Audience member Andrew Huang ’20 said he particularly enjoyed Noah’s approach to political commentary.

“I think he did a good job of warming the audience up first before moving onto the heavier social [commentary],” Huang said. “I appreciated the layer of nuance he added to all his arguments.”

Nathan Lee ’20 was one of many students not admitted before the auditorium filled under the first-come, first-served system. 

“I enjoy [Noah’s] stand-up, so it was a bummer to wait for so long and not get in,” Lee said.

Some students arrived hours early to wait for the event, which was sponsored by Cardinal Nights and the Stanford Speakers’ Bureau (SSB).

Other non-SSB events for high-profile speakers such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg have used ticket lotteries to manage demand, but SSB President Carly Houlahan ’17 told The Daily over email that SSB has historically held events on a first-come, first-served basis, and that she was happy to see the event in such popular demand. Houlahan said that SSB notified the general public late last week that the event would likely fill up.

“The current political environment coupled with Family Weekend combined to create unprecedented demand on campus,” Houlahan said in an email to The Daily. “We were grateful to bring Trevor Noah to Stanford, and we hope to continue to bring speakers… that spark the students’ interest and generate important dialogue on campus.”


Contact Nic Fort at nfort ‘at’

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