PASO ROBLES — The star of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah performed a stand up show on Saturday night from at Vina Robles Amphitheater. It was a perfect, Central Coast summer night. As Noah walked to center stage the last few minutes of daylight danced across the sky. While his mere presence in the Central Coast makes us feel like we’ve made it, his immediate mispronunciation of our city’s name quickly reminds us of our small town roots.
“Hello Paso Robe(less),” Noah said as he greeted the crowd, looking into the night sky that was painted in warm shades of pinks and yellows. Noah is a New York Times best selling author for his book “Born a Crime,” and started out as a comedian before replacing Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” Noah’s show covers national news and often pokes fun at politicians by explaining their complex issues and behavior through easy to understand, hilarious metaphors. It’s observational humor, my personal favorite kind, because to every single person in the crowd can relate and because of that each joke can mean something totally different to each person.
Observational humor allows the listener to recall instances in their lives and apply their own laughter to an already funny situation. The two or three or four different memories combine into a sort of super-laughter, like when all the Power Rangers come together to form the Megazord and vanquish evil (see what I did there, that’s what he does, but better). While Noah’s shows on Comedy Central cover a lot of politics, his stand-up was light and only started touching on politics at the end. Noah covered many topics in his routine, starting with a declaration that he will never return to Paso, (he paused to build suspense) in the summer.
“I’m from Africa, and even I was like, yeah, this is too hot,” Noah proclaimed as the crowd erupted in laughter, but harder than a normal chuckle, it was the laughter of pain. Laughter of understanding that it was indeed, “too hot.”
The bulk of Noah’s stand-up was focused on his assimilation into American culture, which was a pleasant surprise for those of us who read his book. The routine almost acted as a small sequel to his book, which covers his childhood in South Africa but ends around the time he moved to the U.S. He referenced many uniquely American things such as the ridiculousness of “wife beater” undershirts, and the general acceptance of such a terrible name. He recalls the first time he accompanied his friend to order tacos from a truck and how different that experience is if it’s something you aren’t accustomed to. He noted that pulling up to a truck, not a restaurant, but an actual truck, in a dimly lit parking lot was something he was not expecting.
But Noah’s brilliance comes in the way he weaves in lessons on today’s biggest social issues and exposes some of the ridiculousness and hypocrisy surrounding them with humor. Noah touched on a couple of social issues, most notably immigration and racism, but did so with such charm and sophistication that he seemed to blur the lines that so deeply divide this country. Noah mocked President Donald J. Trump’s recent plan to build a solar wall, because in order to harvest solar energy, solar panels must be angled toward the sky. He jokes that this would essentially make a ramp for Mexicans to launch across the border, making it easier to do the one thing he has set out to stop.
As the routine drew to a close it became clear how much time and thought Noah invested, and how unbelievably gifted he is at stand-up. Every joke had a purpose and set up an important discussion that would be received by open ears and laughter rather than the hatred and blatant disrespect we see on our televisions every day. I’ve been to comedy shows that have had me in tears, balled up in the fetal position on the floor gasping for air — this wasn’t that, and wasn’t expected to be. This show was exactly what the average Trevor Noah fan would expect, it was funny, witty, well-written, relatable, and at times made you think and reflect upon your own sensibilities.
Vina Robles has a full line-up of shows scheduled for this summer and into the fall. For more information on upcoming events check out of events calender in the entertainment section of the paper.