What Trevor Noah's plagiarism tells us about Comedy Central's racism.

It’s rather… cosmopolitan racism on Comedy Central’s part, actually.

Trevor Noah has been telling a joke that sounds remarkably similar to one that Dave Chappelle told nearly 20 years ago.

The new “Daily Show” host has been accused of stealing joke in the past, but The Hollywood Reporter pointed to a standup routine he performed Saturday that was closely similar to material once performed by another Comedy Central star.


OK, let me admit it: Dave Chappelle has made me laugh – but uncomfortably, because the man is rather good at poking at taboos.  This gives him a certain power, because American culture gets to be rather antsy when it comes to admitting that we even have speech taboos. Nonetheless: Dave Chappelle is a ferociously good comedian, and that’s really all that The Daily Show needed to replace Jon Stewart, right?  So why did they hire instead a guy who just rips off Chappelle, instead of Chappelle himself?

Well… racism, of course.  This is best appreciated by people who are, ah, connoisseurs of racism*, but pretty much everyone can get the basic point. Dave Chappelle – solid middle-class/professional family background, by the way – has the misfortune of being African-American, and as such will be viewed one way by Comedy Central bigwigs.  Trevor Noah, on the other hand, has an excitingly Other pedigree – and more importantly, an excitingly ethnic accent that is still perfectly comprehensible to the average white American liberal** – will be viewed in quite another way, by the same people.  In fact, I can more or less guarantee you that the thought of getting Chappelle to host The Daily Show never once crossed the minds of Comedy Central; and despite the fact that that would have been ratings gold.


Then again, Dave Chappelle might have had a few things to say about smug white people (specifically, the liberal ones) that the aforementioned smug white people might not have wanted to hear.  Which is something that you can probably expect Trevor Noah to avoid; or at least he’ll narrow his focus to acceptable targets. One must be, ah, practical in such matters.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Ripping off another comic’s material is low.  Don’t do that. I can’t believe that I have to even explain that.

*See what I did, there? I’m riffing off of Dave Chappelle. Not ripping him off – that would be Trevor Noah. Me, riffing off: Trevor, ripping off.  There’s a difference, there.

**British entertainers have been taking advantage of this for decades.


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