Trevor Noah’s chapter as host of The Daily Show is coming to an end.
Though his last publicly reported contract was a 5-year pact that took the Comedy Central host through 2022, two sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that he’d quietly re-upped earlier this year. But, as he noted on air Thursday evening, he’s ready to move on.
“I feel like it’s time,” he told his audience, almost seven years to the day after he took over for Jon Stewart. “I spent two years [of the pandemic] in my apartment, not on the road, and when I got back out there again, I realized that there’s another part of my life that I want to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages, I miss going to other countries and putting on shows, I miss being everywhere and doing everything.”
So, expect more of “everything” from Noah, who is just 38-years-old. Certainly, the move frees him up to tour more — which is believed to be vitally important to Noah, who’s in a rarified class of comics who can fill arenas around the globe. Over the years, he’s grossed eight figures on the road, regularly appearing on the world’s biggest stages. In the last seven years, he’s been largely limited to weekend tour dates.
Noah is said to be eager to spend more time on things like podcasting, too, along with potentially penning another book, doing more than simply dabble as an actor and continuing to beef up his Day Zero production company. The latter, which hired a new president last year, has put a significant number of projects in motion, and Noah would like to be heavily invested in all of them.
To date, his Daily Show commitment has made all but small cameos — yes, that was Noah’s voice as Griot in Black Panther — feasible, but there’s been no shortage of studio overtures about Noah. In fact, when his longtime manager Norm Aladjem first signed him as a client, he envisioned a big future for Noah as an actor. “My overriding feeling was that he could one day be a huge movie star,” he told THR in 2019. When The Daily Show opportunity came up, his team was down the road on a sitcom based on Noah’s life, which had already attracted major interest from several outlets, including Netflix.
To be sure, Noah didn’t have a L8Nite vanity plate on his first car or blow out birthday candles on a Late Night cake as his (recently re-upped) peer Jimmy Kimmel did growing up. Having a U.S. late night show was not a childhood dream of the South African comic’s. In fact, he initially rebuffed Stewart’s offer to be a correspondent on Stewart’s iteration of The Daily Show, citing his touring schedule at the time. Later, when it came time to hammer out a deal for Noah’s incarnation, that schedule, now even busier and more lucrative, made things tricky. After all, a nightly show would mean his already significant standup income was poised to take a real hit.
“I remember I said, ‘I’ll have to figure out how I’ll manage with taking a pay cut,’ and they were like, ‘What do you mean a pay cut? You’re going to become host of The Daily Show,” Noah told THR as part of a 2019 cover story. “And I go, ‘Yes, and I know this is hard for an American to process, but you can be very successful working in the rest of the world. Please don’t think I’m belittling you. … I just have to make sure I’m not giving up the world I’ve built for myself for something that somebody else controls.’”
Put another way, Noah didn’t need the career break that Comedy Central was dangling — nor did he need the income. For years, he took issue with any suggestion that it was The Daily Show that brought him both fame and fortune (which is not to say it hasn’t brought him more of both). “People don’t understand that I came to America from a country where I was really successful,” he previously told THR. “And I’m proud of South Africa because that’s where I made my fortune. I had my homes and my cars and my nice things, and my country gave that to me. So, I wasn’t escaping anything. I’m here because I want to be here.”
But now, it’s time to figure out what else is out there. What hasn’t yet been figured out yet is when, exactly, he’ll bid farewell, though multiple sources expect that will be sorted in the coming weeks. “I’ve never been good at goodbyes,” Noah himself acknowledged on air Thursday. “It’s not instant. I’m not disappearing. Don’t worry. If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.” But the day after surprising his Daily Show audience and much of the industry, Noah was back out on the road. In fact, he’ll be on stage Friday night in Toronto, part of his global Trevor Noah: Back to Abnormal Tour, where he’s said to be filming his next Netflix special.