By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
Trevor Noah visited the University of Missouri-St.Louis campus on April 29 as part of Mirth Week celebrations. Noah, a South-African-born television and radio host, took over “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central on September 28, 2015.
Hasan Minhaj was originally scheduled to open for Noah, but he was recently selected to host the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, D.C. on April 29. Comedian Tone Bell opened for Noah in Minhaj’s place.
Bell warmed up the audience with an anecdote about asking for jelly for his sandwich at an airport fast food restaurant. After being told he would have to pay 27 cents for a packet of jelly, he gave the cashier a $100 bill so they would have to break it. They broke the change reluctantly with a remark that he will have the change now for the next 27 cent packet. He then went on to order another packet and paid with a $20, just to spite them.
Noah took the stage and was immediately greeted with an audience member saying “I love you.” He yelled it back and went on to say that yelling “I love you” to others you are not that familiar with gave him a bit of culture shock. His mother, he explained, would tell him “I love you” whenever he left the house but his cousin, who had two parents from Africa, did not have the same experience. One time his cousin yelled “I love you” to his father and his father was a little taken aback and yelled “Good luck” in return.
Noah’s situational humor drew much from the cultural differences between Americans and Africans. Topics ranged from child rearing and immigrant food in the United States, to ordering fast food. Noah explained his first experience buying tacos with his friend. His friend, incredulous that Noah had never had tacos, insisted it was an American thing to eat. Noah has traveled around the United States and believes this to be a true statement despite the fact that tacos come from Mexico. He went to order a taco and was asked immediately after if he would like a napkin. In Africa, a napkin is a diaper for a baby. He was very concerned what was in the tacos that would cause him to need a diaper immediately after. The taco stand proprietor kept insisting he needed a napkin because they are messy and Noah insisted he was a grown man who did not need a diaper after eating food.
Noah experienced another comical cultural difference when he was introduced to the concept of a surprise party. His friends from Africa, who did not understand the concept, insisted that there were a lot of practical problems. If the party occurred around the time of a birthday, instance, it would not be much of a surprise. They also did not understand why they would be invited by someone other than the birthday celebrant, thus leaving them out of the loop about their own party.
Despite the torrential rain and thunderstorms that rolled through the area, Noah’s show was a successful segment of UMSL’s Mirth Week celebrations.