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The Daily Showdown
February 27, 2019

Trevor Noah noted that President Trump has landed in Vietnam for talks with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, after avoiding Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and laughed at Kim's mode of transportation, dragging in Thomas the Tank Engine. And he didn't seem overwhelmed with Michael Cohen's planned testimony before Congress on Wednesday. "Michael Cohen is going to testify under oath that President Trump is a liar, a cheat, a womanizer, and a racist?" Noah deadpanned on Tuesday's Daily Show. "What other bombshells is he gonna drop? Is he also going to tell us that Abraham Lincoln didn't die of natural causes?"

It would be big news if "Cohen can actually prove that Trump was involved in specific criminal acts, including when he was president," Noah allowed, because it would mean "Trump stopped playing golf and watching TV long enough to commit crimes." But he did arch his eyebrows at Ivanka Trump's Fox News interview. "Last night, the president's daughter took a break from her extremely important job at the White House to teach Democrats a little lesson about ordinary Americans," he said, rolling the clip.

"Ivanka Trump says the thing she's learned in life is that people want to work for what they get? Really?" Noah laughed. "The woman whose résumé just says 'Daddy, I need job now.' That woman? Really? And for the record, I'm going to call B.S. on this. People love getting free sh-t!" He pointed to basketball games where "people will trample their own kids for a free shirt that they will never wear," and Costco samples. "And let me tell you something, rich people love handouts more than anyone," Noah said, citing his night at the Oscars. "Guys, Lady Gaga kicked my ass because I grabbed something before she could get her hands on it — and okay, it was her Oscar, but that's not the point."

You can watch Noah's star-struck recap of his first Oscars and the after-parties below. Peter Weber

February 26, 2019

Singer "R. Kelly may finally be facing justice — and it almost feels strange that they got him after all these years," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "It's like if Wile E. Coyote finally caught the Road Runner — who is also a criminal, by the way." But broke R. Kelly is not alone, and Noah cycled through several high-profile sex scandals. Next up? The Catholic Church, which just wrapped up a big global meeting on sex abuse.

"The pope has threatened abusive priests with 'the wrath of God' — that is the ultimate 'Just wait till your dad gets home,'" Noah said. But if that's all the pope's got, "it looks like the church isn't going to do enough to punish these sex criminals, which means we might need to get the government involved. The only problem is, the government has also got its hands full right now." A judge just ruled that 11 years ago, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta illegally "let a billionaire off the hook for abusing underage girls," he said. "And President Trump's response is, 'That seems like a long time ago.'"

And bizarrely, "this story is flying almost completely under the radar because there's another billionaire having a different sex scandal at the same time, also in Florida," Noah said. And as "insane" as it is that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft got busted allegedly "paying for sex in strip mall in Florida," remember, "investigators say that these women weren't willing sex workers, they were women who were from China, who were forced into sex slavery."

"So this wasn't Pretty Woman," Noah said. "It's more like pretty horrific. Which is why these are very serious charges — unless you're a Patriots fan." He showed how this is playing in Boston. "Look, you can call it repulsive, you can call it insensitive for these people to just brush aside serious sex crimes like this," he said, "but you could also call it presidential." Some language is probably NSFW. Peter Weber

Peter Weber

February 21, 2019

Trevor Noah was skeptical of Empire actor Jussie Smollett's hate-crime story before Smollett was arrested on Thursday for allegedly faking the attack, but he was incredulous after Chicago police and prosecutors laid out the evidence. Like Smollett's alleged motive: "Are you kidding me? This dude may have faked a hate crime just to get a raise?" Noah asked on Thursday's Daily Show, struggling to find the logic: "You get your ass beat, and then you go to your boss and be like, 'Hey, can I get another million dollars? I need to buy some band-aids'?" He suggested blackmail as a better alternative.

And paying your accomplices by check? "What, did he also write 'Fake Hate Crime' in the memo?" Noah asked. "Even amateurs know if you commit a crime, you go all cash, people! No paper trail!" The bottom line is "if he did do this, Smollett did a horrible job with this fake crime," he said, playing one more detail involving a camera failure.

"So Jussie is potentially going to prison for a while, and in his wake, he has screwed over everyone," Noah said: Members of the gay community, Trump supporters, and Democratic candidates who decried the attack. The only winner here is Subway, he added, for reasons he explained, "but there is a silver lining: When this started out, it was a story about people who hated Jussie Smollett because he was black and gay. But now, people hate him because he's an a--hole. In other words, they're judging him on the content of his character and not the color of his skin. And that, my friends, is progress." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 21, 2019

"Right now in America, more people are killed by opioids than cars," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. Opioids "are a national emergency — a genuine national emergency," and "if you listen to the president — which by the way I don't recommend you do — but if you do, he'll point his tiny little blame finger where he normally does: South of the border." Seriously, President Trump "blames Mexico for everything," he said. "But in reality, the opioid crisis is as American as baseball or student loan debt."

It's American doctors who widely over-prescribed large amounts of opioids, but they're "basically low-level henchmen," Noah said, and "at the top of the cartel" are the pharmaceutical companies that make and pushed the drugs — like Insys Therapeutics, which "didn't just bribe doctors to push opioids, they sent strippers to bribe the doctors. And let me just say, when a stripper starts paying you, something fishy is going on." And that's "small-time compared to the Pablo Escobar of opioids, the Sackler family," Noah said. He read some of what he called the "straight-up evil" allegations from the Massachusetts case blaming the Sacklers and their company, Purdue Pharma, for making billions by lying about the addictiveness of OxyContin, blaming the addicts, and trying to get approval for children's OxyContin.

"Knowing all the shady s--t that these people are accused of, you'd think the Sackler family would be shunned from society — but in fact, it's the exact opposite," Noah said. "So really, the Sackler family should be as notorious as Pablo Escobar or El Chapo, because they've also gotten so many Americans hooked on drugs. The one difference is, everyone knows those other guys and they know how bad they are, because they've seen TV shows about them." There's no such show about the Sacklers, but The Daily Show changed that. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 20, 2019

Last month, Empire actor Jussie Smollett "said he was attacked by racist Trump supporters who beat him up, tied a rope around his neck, and poured bleach on him," Trevor Noah recapped on Tuesday's Daily Show. "But now police have found two Nigerian brothers who claim Jussie paid them to stage the attack. Now, the police searched their house and they found bleach, they found masks, and they found rope, so this is like the shortest CSI episode ever. ... I'm surprised they didn't also find a book called Faking Hate Crimes for Dummies."

Noah ran through more details with correspondent Jaboukie Young-White, who as a gay black actor like Smollett was both "disappointed" and also eager to try out for the Lifetime movie, or maybe Smollett's spot on Empire. "We're still piecing together leaks from the Chicago Police Department and more reliable sources like TMZ, but you couldn't have written a crazier plot," Young-White said. "I mean, Trump supporters who watch Empire?" He got serious about "gay panic" laws in 47 states that allow men lighter sentences for beating or killing LGBTQ men by claiming they were hitting on them. "Imagine if women could use that defense?" he said. "There would be no men left." (There's NSFW language.)

Whether Smollett is lying or telling the truth, "right now the story just doesn't make sense," Noah told the audience between scenes. "Like, why are two Nigerian guys walking around in Chicago's freezing weather and then shouting 'This is MAGA country'? That's a weird thing to shout as a Nigerian person." Either way, "this is a home run" for President Trump, "because so many people jumped on board before they even waited to see what it was about," he said. "We live in a world where people are too enthusiastic at jumping at stories that confirm their biases, instead of just pausing and going: What do I make of the story?" Peter Weber

February 12, 2019

Virginia, "a state that used to be known for things like slavery, plantations, and being the capital of the Confederacy," is now seeing that "proud" history "tainted by accusations of racism," Trevor Noah deadpanned on Monday's Daily Show. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) capped a week of blackface scandal by sitting down with Gayle King at CBS News, and in a "baller" move, Northam said "he should keep his job because he's learned his lesson," Noah said. "Ironically, he's learned so much about black history that it's getting him into even more trouble."

Noah played the clip about indentured servants in early colonial Virginia. "Poor Northam, man," he said. "Seems like no matter what he says, he just makes it worse. Because almost everyone who saw that clip had the same reaction as Gayle. They're like, 'Uh, indentured servants? That's a nice way to say slavery. Like, what do you call blackface? Extreme tanning?'" But "some historians do say the first Africans to arrive in Virginia were actually indentured servants, not slaves," he pointed out. "I'm not gonna lie: One of the things that makes Northam so entertaining is that he's like the Michael Scott of politics, right? Every time he tries to get out of a hole, he just keeps digging himself deeper."

Still, black Virginians want Northam to stay in office by a 3-to-2 margin, "which seems crazy, but it actually makes sense," Noah said. "Think about it: To black people, especially in Virginia, every white guy serving in office has probably done some racist sh-t in their past. So you might as well have a white guy who has already been caught and feels bad about it. ... Until his term is over, he's gonna be working every day to pay black people back for what he's done. And I know what you're thinking: You're like, 'What are you saying, Trevor? He's their slave?' No, no, no, not slave, indentured servant." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 25, 2019

Trevor Noah found quite a bit of note in the ongoing Brooklyn federal trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, and a broader relevance to America's biggest ongoing fight. El Chapo's trial "has reached its halfway point, and what we've learned so far is muy loco," he said on Thursday's Daily Show. There's sex, drugs (obviously), betrayal, and allegations that he bribed the former Mexican president with $100 million. "To be fair, the Mexican president has already denied it from the deck of his $101 million yacht," he joked.

Noah ran through some of the henchmen testifying against El Chapo — The Beard, Lollipop, the IT guy — and "this IT guy is one of the biggest reasons El Chapo might be going down. And he only agreed to turn because the FBI paid him." With the government shut down, the FBI has no money to pay informants, Noah added, and "the U.S. Marshals who are guarding El Chapo? They aren't getting paid because of the shutdown. And now I'm not saying they're gonna be bribed, but if there's anyone you want to be extra careful with, it's El Chapo. This guy has escaped from prison twice already."

"Remember, the reason El Chapo became the most powerful drug lord in history is that he figured out how to smuggle more drugs across the border than anybody else, and during this trial, we've found out how he's done it," Noah said. "El Chapo was using planes, tunnels, and even submarines to smuggle drugs into the U.S. So I guess it's a good thing that Trump is building that wall! The sad thing is, even if Trump sees this trial, it won't change his mind. If anything, he'll probably just double down." Noah guessed the next barrier.

In between scenes, Noah theorized that Trump doesn't actually care about the wall at all, and Democrats aren't as opposed as they seem. Watch. Peter Weber

January 23, 2019

After 33 days of partial government shutdown, "the effects are piling up," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. Low-income renters are losing housing aid, welfare is running low, the FBI is warning about not being able to pay informants, IRS employees are staying home, and the TSA is getting desperate. Basically, he joked, "the government is so broke, that they're selling ad space on the Constitution. And now, things seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Because instead of debating the wall or how to end the shutdown, politicians are arguing about a whole new issue: the State of the Union speech."

Noah ran through Wednesday's drama, from President Trump saying he still planned to give the State of the Union speech from the House next week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) telling him no, not while the government is shut down. Trump can't speak in the House without an invitation and Pelosi isn't inviting him, but "at the same time, this is Donald Trump — you can't tell him where he can and can't go," Noah said. "This is the same guy who popped up in the dressing room of the Miss Teen USA pageant." He had some fun imagining a "congressional bouncer" keeping Trump out of the House chamber.

That won't be necessary, because "in a surprise move, the president surrendered," Noah said. He showed Trump's comments, which sounded like "he's choosing the next word on his predictive text," among other oddities. "I don't know if Nancy gave Trump a wedgie behind Congress one day, but she did something because she's the only person he hasn't given a nickname to," he noted. "Everyone else he's like: Cryin' Chuck Schumer, Liddle Marco Rubio, Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren, Lyin' Ted Ted. And he's like, 'Nancy Pelosi, or as I call her, Nancy.'" Noah also questioned whether the FBI is really out of cash, and you can watch below. Peter Weber

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