Comedian, television host and actor, Trevor Noah credits Ireland with giving him a fresh insight into how to be comfortable with his own comedy. The South African-born host of The Daily Show told Oliver Callan – sitting in for Ryan Tubridy – that a "regular Irish guy in the audience" at a show in Ireland changed how he approached his comedy:
"I think it was someone who came up to me after a show and said, 'Hey, Trevor, why don't you talk more about Apartheid?’ And I said, ‘Well, Apartheid is a terrible thing to talk about.’ He said, ‘Oh but that’s all we want to hear about here. That’s a great story and it’s a nice thing to introduce people to and to shape.’ And I was like ‘But it’s a comedy show.’ And he just sat with me – and this was a guy in the audience, a regular Irish guy in the audience – and he changed my world forever."
Ever since that encounter, Trevor has woven his comedy around the notion that it can be sued to process anything, from pain to pleasure to perplexity, and everything in between:
"And I think that’s something that I’ve found is a commonality between Irish people and South Africans or any group of people who’ve been through long periods of pain, is that we’ve found humour as a tool to process what’s happening, as opposed to minimising it."
Using humour this way, Trevor says, means that it’s often found where you wouldn’t normally expect to find it, places where, for instance, there’s war or famine or racial oppression. He sees it as a coping mechanism. It also enables Trevor – and the likes of Jon Stewart and John Oliver – to treat serious subjects with the gravity they deserve, while also chucking in copious amounts of gags along the way. And despite the state of the world at the moment, Trevor’s stand-up has plenty of hope – or possibly delusion:
"A lot of comedy has a sort of zen attitude pointing out the absurdity of life. When you get to accept the absurd, there’s a certain element of peace that comes with it. Once you accept that most of what we live through is crazy, most of what we accept as normal is completely abnormal, isn’t there a sort of peace that comes with that, Oliver?"
Trevor’s stand-up show comes to Ireland in May and Oliver wondered if the comedian/presenter/actor has any memories of his previous trips to Dublin (aside from the life-changing post-gig experience described earlier, obviously) and indeed he does:
"I have many memories of Dublin actually. One of my fondest memories, unashamedly, is the brown bread ice cream. That changed my life. Yeah, that actually changed my life forever."
We have to presume he means Murphy’s brown bread ice cream from Dingle (available in select outlets in de capital). Good choice. You can hear Oliver’s full conversation with Trevor by going here.
Trevor Noah’s Back to Abnormal World Tour comes to the 3Arena in Dublin on Saturday 7 May.