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"There wasn't a big freedom scene": Trevor Noah Talks Comedy In Pre-Democracy South Africa On The Tonight Show

'The Tonight Show' guest Trevor Noah speaks to Jimmy Fallon about the state of South Africa's stand-up comedy scene when he was growing up.


Trevor Noah appeared on The Tonight Show Friday night, where the South African comedian spoke to Jimmy Fallon about a range of topics, including Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, New York City's sirens, U.S. politics, the state of comedy in pre-democracy South Africa and Noah's start in stand-up.

Was there a big stand-up scene in South Africa when Noah was growing up, Fallon asked. "No, because there wasn't a big 'freedom scene.' It sort of limits you," the 31-year-old comedian said. "There was no stand-up scene. There were a few guys here and there who would speak up. But if you were gathered in a group, especially if it was black people, you go to jail because obviously you were planning something. They didn't think black people just hang out; they [think they're] here for a reason. There was no stand-up scene, there was no one speaking out. You couldn't say anything about the government. You'd go to jail. It sort of limits your need or want to be a comedian when you're gonna go to jail. If you told me I was going to go to jail I'd stop doing comedy."

Fallon then wondered how Noah got into stand-up, which the comedian explained involved a night out with his drunk cousin and friends.

The pair also spoke about the upcoming presidential election in the U.S. "This is insane. I've never seen anything like it," Noah said. "Sometimes it looks like a fighting game and it's all the characters you can choose. It's like who do you select?... I feel like it's Game of Thrones. We need a map to show you who goes where and how." He added, "We just got democracy, so this is like I've gone into the future. I want to go home and tell people, 'you don't know what's coming! It gets crazy!'"

Trevor Noah's "new and sexy Daily Show" is slated to premiere on Comedy Central on September 28th in the U.S. and September 29th in Africa.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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