Trevor Noah talks politics at the Convocation Center

By Nina Kasman

DeKALB – Trevor Noah blew the crowd away during his Saturday performance at the Convocation Center with well-done political commentary and crowd interaction. 

Noah, stand up comedian and host of The Daily Show, was originally scheduled to perform at NIU in November of 2018, but he had to reschedule twice due to a vocal cord injury. Fortunately, the wait was well worth it.

The energy in the air was high before the performance even started. History major Emma Barton-Norris and psychology major Emily Checka, two first-year students, said they were excited about the performance. The Convocation Center, which holds up to 10,000 people, was about three-fourths full of people, anticipating the show.

The audience cheered as Noah took the stage. People in the front took out their phones, which prompted Noah to start his routine by addressing how much we rely on technology. The commentary was well-received by the audience.

Noah did not shy away from political humor, which added greatly to his performance. The jokes resonated well with the audience, who cheered loudly when Noah asked if they would take the 2020 election seriously. The political humor was relevant without being condescending.

Such jokes included discussion about the National anthem, democracy and the #MeToo movement. 

Other countries, Noah said, don’t sing the National Anthem and do not remix the national anthem. 

In America, when someone sings the anthem at a game, it is impossible to sing along because of the improvisations that the singer makes, Noah said. 

The bite at America’s relationship with our anthem is funny because it’s true, but those who are used to it don’t think it’s strange. 

The comedian also made an analogy between American democracy and an airplane. He said democracy is an airplane and the president is the pilot. 

He compared former American presidents to different kinds of pilots, from those who let their co-pilot steer the plane to those who led the country in the right direction. 

He talked about the 2016 election in terms of piloting, which made the election more palatable. The joke came across well, and it was an effective piece of political humor without being overly controversial. 

Noah also joked about the current presidential impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump.

He said he knows a lot of people would like to see Trump removed from office, but that he would prefer Trump over Vice President Mike Pence. 

He compared the two to serial killers and said that he would much rather have Trump trying to kill him than Pence because he doesn’t think Trump has the skills to be a competent killer. 

This was both funny and an interesting perspective on the impeachment proceedings happening right now, and was received well by the community.

After Noah commented that Trump’s only real policy is building a wall, an audience member exclaimed: “f–ck that wall.” Noah responded by saying he was glad she specified which wall. 

Not all walls are Trump’s wall, and without walls, there would be nothing to hold up the roof, he joked. 

The audience interaction added an intimacy to the event, and the lighthearted approach to Trump’s controversial wall is a good representation of the way that Noah used controversial politics for comedy throughout his performance in an effective way that added to the political conversation instead of taking away from it. 

Noah also joked about the differences between living as a woman than living as a man. He said women live on the same planet as men, but they live in completely different worlds. Women’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is currently protected under Roe V. Wade, but that could be jeopardized if the Supreme Court decides to overrule it. 

Noah said if it were the other way around, men would never let women make legislation about their bodies. Men would also fix all the troubles that women go through during their periods if they were the ones who menstruated, he joked. Noah said that if men had periods, they would be able to take a week off work for them, discuss it openly in public and wouldn’t have to pay a tax for sanitary products. 

Noah referenced the #MeToo movement as an example of how women’s experiences are vastly different from that of men. Women had to start an entire movement just to not be harassed, and men still find a way to make themselves the victims by talking about false accusations. Noah said if he asked all the guys who have been falsely accused of sexual harassment to raise their hands, he would be surprised if 20 hands went up. If he asked all the women who have experienced sexual harassment to raise their hands, he would be surprised if 20 hands stayed down. 

Topics like these sprinkled among his jokes elevated the night to a level of political importance that saturated the audience.

Noah’s last bit for the night was about the vocal cord injury that he experienced last year, which was the reason that he had to reschedule his show two times. He explained that he had to go through a surgery, otherwise, he would risk losing his voice forever. He described his experience with the surgery and about how uncomfortable the experience was, but the fact that he didn’t lose his voice made the whole thing worth it.

Noah’s performance was led by two opening acts. 

The first opener was Angelo Lozada, a stand-up comedian and actor. Lozada relied heavily on audience interaction throughout his performance, talking with couples in the first few rows. Lozado joked about the size of DeKalb: he said that he likes to see the downtown of a town to get the energy of the place and that when he asked his driver to take him to downtown DeKalb, the driver brought him to CVS. His performance was comfortable and generated excitement for the rest of the night. The audience interaction helped fuel a more intimate environment in a large venue.

The second opening act was Josh Johnson who works as a writer for The Daily Show. Johnson’s routine was highlighted by a story about his uncle who burned his foot with soup from a microwave. First-year art major Katrina Hose said she enjoyed Johnson’s performance.

 “I thought the second opening act was especially very good,” Hose said. “It’s good to see someone that you don’t go there for and you still like them.”

At the end of the performance, the audience thanked Noah and his openers with a standing ovation.