Interview with Trevor Noah: Life, jokes and art

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and other stories (Pan Macmillan) has just been published around the world. The Mail & Guardian asked Noah about himself, his book, his writing and the art of comedy.

Describe yourself in a sentence.
I’m an introvert with extroverted tendencies.

Describe your ideal reader.
Cosmopolitan in their views of life.

What is your favourite reading matter?
I love reading autobiographies. Getting to share in the inner workings of another person’s life and mind is something I cherish about a great book.

How did you approach telling your autobiographical stories?
To be honest, I just told the stories to people I know. Then I recorded them, transcribed them and then, with the help of my editor, put all the pieces into the right places.

Did the work of David Sedaris influence how you told your life story?
I read a number of story and essay collections while thinking about the book, mostly by other comedians. Sedaris was one of them, but hardly the main one. It was more to get an idea of what I didn’t want to do, which was to write a jokey humour book. I wanted to tell real stories from my life and from South Africa – to pay tribute to my mother and everything she did for me – and let the humour flow naturally from the characters and the situations, not artificially inserted punch lines.

Which comedians have inspired you most and how?
Comedians inspire me with their talent, not necessarily their style or content. Dave Chapelle inspires me just with how much comedy talent is in one person. Chris Rock’s work ethic is inspiring, Eddie Izzard’s free-form absurdity. So many comics inspire me in different ways.

What is the purpose of stand-up comedy?
Stand-up comedy has to make people laugh, it’s really that simple. Some jokes are benign and merely designed for a laugh, others seek to point out absurdities in norms that society chooses to overlook. But stand-up can take many forms and have many styles. The only constant is laughter.

What is the purpose of storytelling?
To carry stories from generation to generation. To travel another person through time and space. To share a piece of your mind with others.

Advertisting

R1.1-billion land claim “captured”

This story was produced in partnership with Pulitzer Center. Details of the land claim settlement for MalaMala, one...

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

SANDF colonel accused of swindling colleagues in UN business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal
Advertising

Press Releases

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.