Trevor Noah

‘Best TV Host’ coming to Maui

Trevor Noah entertains Maui audiences with two shows in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului on May 25. Seats still remain for Noah’s 10 p.m. performance, but are sold out for his 8 p.m. show. Tickets range from $79.50 to $99.50 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the artist

Trevor Noah entertains Maui audiences with two shows in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului on May 25. Seats still remain for Noah’s 10 p.m. performance, but are sold out for his 8 p.m. show. Tickets range from $79.50 to $99.50 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the artist

One of the biggest cliches in stand-up is “timing is everything,” a quote originally attributed to William Shakespeare. In the case of South African-born comedian Trevor Noah, a different type of timing has led to his immense success. Noah has hosted Comedy Central’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Daily Show” since Jon Stewart retired in 2015.

What immediately followed, in addition to receiving a built-in loyal audience, was two years’ worth of bizarre politics ripe for mockery in true “Daily Show” style. I asked Noah about his good fortune.

“I was only on ‘The Daily Show’ for a few months before I was offered the job. I was still processing the fact that Jon had announced his departure and I was really shocked to get the job. I think I almost fainted,” said Noah.

Recently Hawaii was a hot topic on “The Daily Show” when U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued a nationwide halt against President Trump’s revised travel ban executive order in March. In a comedy bit on the show Noah used footage of KITV’s Paula Akana and Robert Kekaula, commenting, “Damn … Hawaii ‘youse’ chill as f—,” adding a theory that the KITV newsroom floated on a surfboard in the ocean. I asked Noah how the routine originated.

“We were watching coverage of the Hawaiian court decision and one of the clips we came across was from KITV. I couldn’t stop watching because it was the coolest and most chilled-out news I’d ever watched, so we covered it on the show,” replied Noah.

Nick Swardson will be in the right place at the right time when he returns to Maui on May 18. Photo courtesy the artist

Nick Swardson will be in the right place at the right time when he returns to Maui on May 18. Photo courtesy the artist

I inquired if inheriting the Trump era was a comedy gift.

“I can’t deny it gives us more material to work with but it’s also so much to deal with at one time so we end up missing some stuff,” he shared. “I would prefer it if Trump’s wild antics were nicely spaced out.”

This visit marks Noah’s first to the state and I wondered if he had a “must-do list.”

“This is my first time in Hawaii and I couldn’t be more excited. I must do everything, bike down a volcano, eat plate lunch and drive the road to Hana.”

When his Oahu and Maui dates were announced, both shows quickly sold out, prompting producer Rick Bartalini (who also produced Diana Ross’ appearances in 2015, as well as Bill Maher’s annual Maui New Year’s Day concerts) to add a second Castle Theater show at 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 25.

Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, Noah has hosted numerous television shows in South Africa before making his U.S. television debut on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in 2012. He also appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either show.

His Comedy Central stand-up special, “Trevor Noah: Lost in Translation,” brought Noah’s unique world view and global analysis of American culture. He was also the subject of the award-winning documentary film “You Laugh But It’s True,” which told the story of his rise in post-apartheid South Africa.

Curious, I asked what the stand-up comedy world was like in Africa.

“The stand-up world in Africa is different everywhere you go but it’s growing rapidly and it’s slowly becoming a viable career choice, which is great,” said Noah. “Coming to America was crazy and fun for me because I had to learn how to adapt some of my comedy for U.S. audiences and I always laughed at how people would think I was going to come on stage wearing leopard skin, which was always fun for me to joke about in my set.”

I asked what is the one thing about American culture that he didn’t get.

“The wasting of food and excess is something I don’t think I’ll ever be used to,” Noah replied.

“The Daily Show” has now been a fixture on Comedy Central for over 20 seasons, 16 of which were helmed by Stewart. I asked Noah if he envisioned an equally lengthy run.

“We’ll be here for as long as we’re allowed to be here,” he replied.

On Sunday, Noah was awarded Best Host at the MTV Awards, which he dedicated to his mother, Patricia Noah.

“She is a powerful, strong black woman who didn’t listen when they told her she couldn’t be more,” he said in his acceptance speech. He also thanked President Trump.

“Thank you to Donald J. Trump, for the comedy. The J stands for Jesus, a lot of people don’t know that.”

*****

Comedian Nick Swardson also found himself in the right place at the right time. Perhaps first and best known for playing Terry, the flamboyant, roller skate-wearing and frequently arrested recurring character on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!,” Swardson has since gone on to appear in dozens of the most successful comedy films of the 21st century. Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions came calling in 2003 when he co-wrote “Grandma’s Boy” with Sandler. Swardson has since gone on to star alongside Sandler in “Click,” “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” “Bedtime Stories,” “That’s My Boy,” “The Ridiculous 6,” “The Do-Over” and the Maui-filmed “Just Go With It” in 2011.

The Happy Madison family, which includes stars like David Spade, Rob Schneider, Kevin James, Chris Rock and many more, allows these great comedic actors the freedom to tour and produce their own comedy specials while making them secure with the luxury of regular film work alongside their contemporaries in what has practically become a repertoire company.

In addition to his writing and acting, Swardson continues to do stand-up, a skill he originally believed would be a stepping stone to television and film comedy. His first album, “Party,” went platinum. He followed that up with his stand-up special “Seriously Who Farted?” and the Comedy Central sketch comedy show “Pretend Time with Nick Swardson” in 2010. In 2015 Swardson performed at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center with material from the “Nick Swardson: Taste It,” comedy special.

“When you live the life of a comedian, it’s such a state of arrested development. I can’t deal with anything very maturely,” says Swardson, according to a press release, who returns to Maui next week. “I’m still really bad at paying bills or doing anything that would be considered semi-adult. I’m really bad at it. It’s weird; I can create and run a TV show, but I can’t pay my phone bill.”

* BAMP presents Nick Swardson in concert at 7:30 p.m. May 18 in Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets range from $25 to $45 in advance (plus applicable fees), with a $5 per ticket increase on day-of-show and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.

This week

The Baldwin High Performing Arts Learning Center and Baldwin Theatre Guild present their 12th annual variety show extravaganza this weekend. The original revue created by the Baldwin students features singing, dancing and skits.

“This is a truly original one-of-a- kind show,” says director Linda Carnevale. “The students always come up with a wide range of ideas. Whether Broadway, film, movies or TV, this show always promises to be totally new, fun and entertaining.”

n Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12 through 14 in the Loudon Mini-Theatre at the back of the Baldwin High School Campus. General admission tickets are $5 and available at the box office only one-half-hour prior to show time.

*****

Maui OnStage concludes Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men,” directed by Rick Scheideman.

* Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays through May 14 at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $20 to $40. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event, call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.

Upcoming

The Maui Chamber Orchestra presents “West Side Story in Concert.” From the first notes to its final breath, “West Side Story” is one of the most memorable musicals and greatest love stories of all time. The score by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is widely regarded as one of the best musicals ever written.

* Performances are 7:30 p.m. May 20 and 3 p.m. May 21 at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Tickets range from $27 to $55. Call 242-6969 or order online at www.mauionstage.com.

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