By Sarah Bricker Hunt
Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” for the last seven years, says he will leave the show December 8, opening up an opportunity for a fresh voice to fill that influential role.
In a tumultuous political climate where LGBTQ+ issues are the hot potato that politicians love to bat back and forth, who better to provide pithy commentary than a queer comedian? Here are five rising stars and veteran funny people who could fill the role.
Wanda Sykes’ trademark no-nonsense takes on current events (and takedowns of current idiots) would liven up the “Daily Show” desk. She’s been at this for a while, too. Take her “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” appearance way back in 2001, where she took down then president George W. Bush, remarking, “I pray for the man every day… and I advise everybody else to do the same. We in trouble, Jon! We are in trouble. It’s the foreign policy — the man has only left the country twice, and that was to Mexico. I have traveled more than the president. That’s a problem.”
Twenty years later, Sykes has remained relevant (and side-splittingly funny) and has been an active political rabble rouser. There’s no doubt a Sykes-led “Daily Show” would be well-written, pithy, pointedly sassy and devoid of fluff. Sykes would just get the job done while casually annihilating people who casually support stances like eliminating queer rights.
Jon Stewart laid the groundwork, Trevor Noah carried the torch, and Patti Harrison, the whip-smart, take-no-shit comedian (who got kicked off Twitter for hilariously impersonating Sia as Nilla Wafers — yes the cookies) will bring it home for a new generation.
At 31, Harrison, who recently starred in “The Lost City” is a vocal member of the young millennial and Gen Z generation and an out transwoman, which means she understands what’s at stake for her generation’s future and can speak powerfully against the recent alarming national political and social backslide into the 1950s. She is also the comedian most likely to take the audience on Andy Kaufman-esque rides to unexpected places, something we can get behind.
Lesbian heroine McKinnon is a no-brainer to replace Noah. The veteran “SNL” actor left the show this year after a decade playing a laundry list of audience favorites, but her tenure there might be most linked to her earnest, deeply funny impersonation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We’d love to see her drop some Ginsburns on some well-deserving political figures.
There’s more to McKinnon than her epic RBG portrayal, too. Remember when she channeled what every non-Trump voting American was feeling when Hillary Clinton lost in 2016? Her post-election cold open, as Clinton singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was as cathartic as it was powerful — a reminder to cherish what we had and a call to gather strength for the battles yet to come at an unprecedented moment in history (no matter what Rob Schneider thinks). Add McKinnon’s universal likability and she’s a candidate for the job who would be uniquely positioned to serve as a bridge between constantly warring political factions.
Another “SNL” standout, Yang has been coming into his own over the past year, as evidenced by runaway Hulu hit “Fire Island.” But it’s his off-the-cuff takes in interviews that reveal why he’d make an excellent “Daily Show” host. When Q Syndicate editorial director Chris Azzopardi interviewed Yang this summer, he discussed the “SNL” sketch “Pride Month Song,” a fresh look at a queer culture staple. Ever down-to-earth, Yang said, “…Pride is kind of exhausting. And it’s kind of not what you expect it to be: You think it’s gonna be this amazing thing and it actually ends up being really stressful and logistically a nightmare and someone has a meltdown at some point.”
It’s that kind of Midwestern-via-New-York authenticity that contributes to Yang’s cross-cultural appeal. It would be compelling to see Bowen breaking down complicated news events in a way we can all understand and identify with. Yang is a master at keeping it real.
Maybe it’s time for “The Daily Show” to become a variety show. Randy Rainbow’s snarky political musical theater might just be magical in the way it lures listeners in with familiar Broadway intros and then whacks them over the head with laser-targeted observations about terrible people. Sometimes, a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down. And at a time when we can all agree that real world news is almost too much to comprehend some days, we could use a little sugar, especially when it’s spice in disguise.
It would be interesting to see Rainbow approach the “Daily Show” anchor desk with a Colbert-esque approach, where we’re never quite sure if he’s serious, but we’re definitely sure he’s killing fascists with every expertly crafted lyrical delight.