In a new profile for GQ, incoming "Daily Show" Trevor Noah addressed the controversy that bubbled over in March when journalists discovered a string of unfunny, offensive tweets (aimed mostly at Jews and women) that the South African comedian had written some years prior.
"You show me half my jokes from even two years ago, three years ago—I hate them," Noah explained to profile writer Zach Baron. "Because you see, like, a young version of yourself. You're like, ‘Why would you say that? You idiot! That makes no sense.' Or, ‘That's just stupid.' Or, ‘Ahh, I can't believe I said that about a woman.' You should not like what you did back then, because that shows that you've grown. If you're still doing it, that's a scarier place to be. So that's a great thing for me. When I get a chance to look back and go: ‘I was an idiot.' "
Noah also spoke out more broadly about the backlash to his taking over Jon Stewart’s chair, giving a string of examples of instances when the public reacted with hostility to a person of color taking on an iconic role:
"A guy doesn't leave and another guy comes in and there's no backlash. That never, ever happens. When Michael B. Jordan got cast as the new Human Torch in Fantastic Four, there was backlash, because they were like, ‘How can this fictional character be a black man?' The new storm trooper from Star Wars, when he took his helmet off in the trailer, people lost their minds. ‘This is ridiculous. How can there be black people in space?' I didn't know what the backlash was gonna be, but I knew there was going to be backlash. The same thing when Larry Wilmore took over from Colbert: ‘Oh, this is never gonna work. This is horrible.’ "
As for how the show will change when he takes the reins, Noah says that he doesn’t have plans for a major overhaul -- although big changes may ultimately be inevitable.
"I have a very vague picture of the show right now," Noah says. "It'll be like a face-lift. Because, don't get it twisted, I'm a big fan of 'The Daily Show,' and that's what it's still gonna be. It's still gonna be 'The Daily Show.' It's the same way, when Fallon took over from Leno, it's still 'The Tonight Show'.”
Still, when Baron pointed out that the Tonight Show had actually changed an awful lot since Fallon took over, Noah backpedaled a bit. "Just the mere fact that I'm gonna be there in the chair changes a whole bunch of the show, you know?”
Read the whole profile, which goes long on Noah's tumultuous upbringing in Apartheid South Africa, over at GQ.