Trevor Noah, The Racist, Pleasance Courtyard


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The Independent Culture

According to Newsweek, the appearance of the South African comedian, Trevor Noah on 'The Tonight Show' earlier this year had sub-Saharan newspapers reporting it "as if it were breaking news". MSNBC Africa meanwhile aired it across the continent.

That the smart and classy 28-year-old is now in Edinburgh is due to Eddie Izzard's zeal for promoting the 'globality' of stand up. The older statesman of British comedy is co-producing the show and, as the Americans have already found out, it's clear that Noah travels well overseas.

The mixed race child of a white Swiss father and a black mother, Noah was "born a crime" in apartheid South Africa, and has always felt that his identity wasn't clearly delineated. 

The US duly beckoned, he says, because "everybody is black out there". The move is  good for his identity, good for his career and, though it is not mentioned tonight, a way of putting distance between himself and his former stepfather who made death threats against the comedian after attempting to murder his mother.

Once in America, Noah finds that things are still not straightforward however. Mexicans want to adopt him as theirs, and he finds that the definition of mixed race people is still a moveable feast, with no better example of this than Barack Obama who, in the eyes of US comics, went from a "mixed fool" to "my nigger!"