The Daily Show host Trevor Noah joined Talk To Al Jazeera on Saturday, the day after his autobiography, Born a Crime, won the Debut Author and Outstanding Biography/Autobiography prizes at the American National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) Image Awards.
Born in 1984 to a black mother and a white father in apartheid South Africa, at a time when interracial unions were still illegal, Noah began his life considered a crime by his own government.
At 18, after South Africa’s transition to democracy, he starred in soapie Isidingo, then went on to host his own radio show, Noah’s Ark, on YFM, which he eventually quit to focus on comedy.
After moving to the US in 2011, he became the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Show With David Letterman.
In 2015, Jon Stewart handpicked him as his successor on The Daily Show, one of America’s top political satire programmes.
Talk to Al Jazeera’s Dareen Abughaida started by asking about Noah’s recent comment relating to current events in the US to what he has already experienced through in his life.
In response, the comedian expressed concern that a culture of segregation and oppression is brewing under President Donald Trump.
“He is proud to put forth a white nationalist agenda that is becoming more and more something that a lot of Americans are excited about – but more Americans are not, which is the one beacon, the light you have to keep aiming towards,” he said.
“It’s actually frightening to see how quickly you can repeat the ills of the past when enough people are afraid and hungry – and those are two things that, if you combine them and use them in the right way, you can get people to commit the most heinous crimes against each other.”
When asked about Trump’s stated strategy to strengthen libel laws, Noah called it “a scary place to be in”.
“But the closer you get to censorship, the more comedy thrives. Freedom of speech is something that people pursue regardless of the laws,” said Noah.
“As human beings, we want to speak our minds, whether it’s whispered in back alleys or proclaimed from a pulpit. As human beings, we want to tell the truth about what we see.
Among other criticisms, he called Trump “somebody who is all about themselves”, adding, “Donald Trump spent the first day of black history month speaking about himself and how well he has been doing and his contribution, as opposed to what the month is supposed to be about”.
“People always say, ‘What would you have done if you were around when Hitler was on the rise?’. Now we’re in a time when there is someone who is presenting the same rhetoric, who is discrediting democracy, who is saying there are imaginary voters and a rigged election.
“If Donald Trump acts like this when he has won an election, how will he act when he loses an election?”