Comedy Central keeps Trevor Noah through 2022

Meredith Blake
Los Angeles Times

Comedy Central is staying in the Trevor Noah business.

The network announced Thursday that it had agreed to a contract extension to keep Noah in place as host of “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” through 2022.

The deal comes as Noah, who replaced a departing Jon Stewart, approaches his second anniversary at “The Daily Show” on Sept. 28.

“I’m thrilled to be continuing this amazing journey with both fans of ‘The Daily Show’ and Comedy Central,” Noah, who is also a writer and executive producer on the program, said in a statement. “It’s really exciting to renew this contract for either five more years or until Kim Jong Un annihilates us all — whichever one comes first.”

The South African comedian was tapped as Stewart’s replacement in March 2015. At the time, he was largely unknown to American viewers aside from a few appearances as a “Daily Show” correspondent.

“I do believe that he has totally set himself apart,” Comedy Central President Kent Alterman told the Times on Thursday. “I think that he came into this job with sort of unacknowledged advantages and I think people didn’t realize it. He’s so brilliant and thoughtful and incisive and funny, and I think that people really underestimated him coming into this.”

Faced with the daunting task of replacing a figure as revered as Stewart, Noah has put his mark on “The Daily Show,” carving out an avid following among younger viewers and expanding the show’s reach online, Alterman said.

“We knew it would take him a while to find his voice in the show, just as it took Jon some time to transform the show from what it was under Craig Kilborn,” Alterman said, attributing Noah’s growth to an increased comfort with the inner workings of the show and the perspective that comes with living full time in the United States for several years.

“What’s really gratifying is the world has taken notice and is embracing him and we see that in all quarters,” he added.

“The Daily Show” is the only daily late-night show to grow with both total viewers and viewers younger than 50, according to Comedy Central. It is poised to finish the quarter as the most-watched daily late-night show among millennials and ranks as the third-highest-rated daily late-night show with viewers younger than 50.

Noah’s memoir, “Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood,” which detailed his experiences as a mixed-race child in post-apartheid South Africa, earned critical praise and became a bestseller when it was published last year.

Last weekend, Noah won his first Emmy for short-form variety series for the digital series “Between the Scenes.”

As part of his contract extension, Noah will also host annual, year-end specials because, as Comedy Central’s news release put it, “’The Daily Show’ will no longer take for granted that humankind has made it to another December 31st.”

Noah’s extension gives Comedy Central’s some stability in late night after a series of changes in the 11-to-midnight hour. “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” was canceled last year, and the quiz show “@midnight With Chris Hardwick” ended its run last month to make room for “The Opposition With Jordan Klepper,” which premieres Sept. 25 and is executive produced by Noah.

The network has also expanded its topical programming with “The President Show” and “The Jim Jefferies Show.”

“We’re so solid in late night and the late-night sensibility,” Alterman said.