Trevor Noah Talks About America, Accents and Audiences
Trevor Noah is a big deal in South Africa, having starred on TV and worked with the best talents, but now he's taking his jokes to the States. He'll show the Irvine Improv how humor translates across the globe.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Congrats on being on The Tonight Show last Friday! Were you nervous at all?
Trevor Noah: Yes. It was my first time on American TV so it was a great way to start the year! I'm always nervous before I start a comedy set whether it's a thousand people or five. The nerves are always the same so I was really nervous.
But you've been on TV tons of times, it is different in the states?
Yes but this was different because I'm not American and you just hope they are going to laugh with you. I've been here for a couple of months doing shows around the states for a bit. I've done shows everywhere from Vegas to the East coast and the West so I'm slowing learning the audiences, I'm having fun which is great. I first officially got here in July and then I've been flying back and forth between South Africa so, I've only been here for a solid three months to four.
Wow your English is really good! Kidding. So you're a pretty big deal in South Africa huh?
[Laughs.] I've been lucky enough to have a good following back home in South Africa and in the English speaking parts of Africa which is nice. I've got fans in Australia and England so it's sporadic. It's going slowly but surely. I'm still young so I've got time!
Do you think there is much a difference between the crowds here and there?
Yeah it's different. It depends on where you go. Before you get to America you can fall into the stereotyping American audiences. When I first got here I did Vegas and the audiences were really not smart at all. It was actually sad and not inspiring. Then I went to San Francisco and I was shocked at how amazing everyone was! I learned that America is such a huge place you can't stereotype anyone.
It's funny that you say that, because in America we are so quick to stereotype. Has there been a favorite place for you? (Insert Irvine here.)
You know, I do! What I love about Irvine is that it's been some of the youngest, freshest audiences which has been really great. I think Irvine might be the best Improv I've played in the country. Like, the Improv in Hollywood is very disillusioned and everyone thinks they're the coolest thing in the world. They're like, I'm an actor but I haven't been in anything but I'm so cool. Then you get to Irvine and they're real people. It's fun and it has been amazing and it's one of the few places I don't mind driving at all.
It's good that you're willing to drive out. How are you liking the traffic in California?
Yeah that's something I've learned. The traffic is just insane. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen in my life to be honest. My GPS has proven to be useless so now I just use it for directions and not estimates on time.
Is your GPS set in an English voice or in an American voice?
You know what's funny is that I prefer the English woman. There's just something commanding about her. I feel like I'm in the car with Helen Mirren or Dame Judi Dench. It sounds epic. The American woman is cool but then with the British woman, I feel like I have to obey her.
I have the British man on my GPS and I call him Rupert. I feel like it's a very English name.
Yes it is! Like Rupert Murdoch. It is, yes Rupert! Oh wow. I couldn't use a man, I feel very awkward when I have a man in my car telling me which way to drive. It just doesn't work.
Don't worry, men usually don't give good directions. No offence. I think the accent helps though, much like your own.
[Laughs.] Well thank you very much. That's the first time it's ever been an advantage in my life. Obviously when you're home it's normal. Out here they go, "I love your accent!" And I say, no I like your accent. You're the one with the accent!
How did you end up opening for Julio Iglesias? Seems kind of random!
[Laughs.] It was the strangest thing and funny enough that happened to me while I was training for "Strictly Come Dancing." I got a phone call and my agent in South Africa says, "Julio Iglesias's management wants you to open for him." First of all I was like, is it Enrique? Or a comedian with the same name? But no, it was the old man Julio Iglesias, Enrique's father. I toured the country with him and he's crazy by the way and he's amazing. He has like a 23 year old wife and he's like 100. He was the first man I've ever seen that would take mothers and daughters home after the show. I've never seen that in my life. People just loved him but I've never seen an audience so old that they couldn't throw their panties on stage, they just left them on the chairs. It was something else. He was the coolest guy ever.
You have a new DVD called "Crazy Normal" but I can't figure out where to get it!
Yes. You know, I don't sell them in America because they're so localized to Africa that I think half of the show people wouldn't get. Mostly I just send it to South African's who need it, like medical supplies. Comedy is so different so you have to change things where you go. The mannerisms, your figure of speech, and even the delivery changes. I've literally had to rewrite comedy. I'll probably be doing a special here and then I'll make that DVD available.
What can the people of Irvine expect from you on Tuesday?
I can't wait to get back out to Irvine and do a longer set, I hope people come to the show! They can expect to laugh. I take my audience on a journey with me. Some people like it and some people absolutely hate it which is fine because you can weed out the people who shouldn't be there. I have a very good approval rating. I have a pre-2009 Obama rating. I promise people will have a great time or I will give them their money back. They have to stay for the whole show though and say, "I didn't like you or anything you did so, may I please have my money back?" I will then personally hand them the money. I will oblige and I will pay them. Probably in one dollar notes just to make them feel the gravity of the situation. I will count it into their hands as I look into their eyes and cry.
But what if they have plans to go to a strip bar after your show and the one dollar bills come in handy?
They can use the one dollar bills for whatever purpose. They don't know it's karma though because if they secretly enjoyed the show but they want their money back because they're cheapskates, they will go to the strip club and wonder why the dance isn't as exotic as they thought it would be. The one dollar bills will become ones of betrayal and shame. It won't bring them any joy.
You can learn out more about Trevor Noah on his website and follow him on Twitter @TrevorNoah. Get your tickets to see him this Tuesday at the Irvine Improv at www.improv.com or call 949-854-5455. The Improv is located at 71 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618.
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