By FRAZIER MOORE
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK — Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old comedian from South Africa who has contributed to The Daily Show a handful of times in recent months, will become Jon Stewart’s replacement as host.
Noah, who is biracial, was chosen a little more than a month after Stewart unexpectedly announced he was leaving The Daily Show following 16 years as the show’s principal voice.
New Jersey native Stewart has blessed the selection. Noah formerly hosted a late-night talk show in South Africa, Tonight With Trevor Noah.
However, the younger comic is drawing fire after graphic tweets made by him targeting women, Jews and Middle America surface, causing a social media backlash. A day after the initial announcement, his name was a trending topic on Twitter as he drew fire for jokes described as tasteless, hateful – and unfunny. Roseanne Barr was among those calling out the South African comic, who has an international following and two million Twitter followers.
Noah rejected the backlash over the tweets as an unfair reflection of him and his comedy.
“To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” Noah posted on his Twitter account, the same one that included past tweets others deemed offensive.
Comedy Central also came to his defense, calling Noah a “provocative” comedian who “spares no one, himself included.”
“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair,” the network said in a statement, adding that he has “a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Roseanne Barr was among those calling out the 31-year-old South African comic, who has an international following and two million Twitter followers.
“U should cease sexist & anti semitic ‘humor’ about jewish [sic] women & Israel,’’ she tweeted.
Noah’s controversial tweets were posted between 2009 and 2014.
In 2009 he wrote: “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german [sic] car!”
In a post from 2011, he writes: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” He attributes the joke to “fat chicks everywhere.”
He also slammed the United States’ midsection in a 2013 tweet, writing that “When flying over the middle of America the turbulence is so bad. It’s like all the ignorance is rising through the air.”
Noah will join Larry Wilmore, a writer-comedian who replaced Stephen Colbert in January in the half-hour slot following The Daily Show. When Noah takes over, Comedy Central will have completely remade the one-hour comedy block that gave the network critical acclaim and, arguably, its identity.
Noah, the son of a black South African mother and white European father who speaks six languages, was being pitched by Comedy Central as reflecting a new age of global multiculturalism, “a citizen of the world,” in the words of Michele Ganeless, the network’s president.
The choice of a new host for The Daily Show is a critical decision not only for the satirical-news program, but for the network, whose identity has largely been forged by the Daily Show franchise, which for years was followed by the likewise signature The Colbert Report.
In an interview, Noah likened himself to Stewart, his soon-to-be-predecessor, as a fellow progressive.
“Obviously where you’re from may inform a lot of your decisions. But traveling the world I learned that progressives, regardless of their locations, think in a global space,” he said by phone from Dubai, where he is on a comedy tour.
“Although I’m a guy who happens to be not from the same place that Jon’s from,” he added, “I’ve lived in America for years before I went back out on the road and I’ve learned to love the place.”