Trevor Noah opened his first episode behind the Daily Show desk by paying tribute to his predecessor Jon Stewart.
"I can assume that this is as strange for you as it is for me," Noah said at the start of his debut episode on the Comedy Central news satire on Monday. "Jon Stewart was more than just a late-night host. He was often our voice, our refuge, and in many ways, our political dad. And it’s weird, because dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new stepdad – and he’s black. Which is not ideal."
The South African comic got big laughs during his opening monologue as he talked about the big shoes he has to fill, even addressing late night TV’s diversity problem.
"It turns out that Comedy Central did ask women to host, and the women they asked turned the job down," Noah joked, "because they had better things to do and clearly knew something I didn’t."
But the 31-year-old kept things mostly sincere as he kicked off his Daily Show tenure, acknowledging Stewart's contribution to the political landscape in his 16 years on the show.
"Many people are part of the reason that I’m sitting here today, but above all I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge one man, and that’s Jon Stewart," Noah said. "Thank you, Jon. Thank you for believing in me. I’m not quite sure what you saw in me, but I’ll work hard every day to find it. And I’ll make you not look like the crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid in Africa."
"To you, the Daily Show viewer, both new and old -- at home and on your phone -- thank you for joining us, as we continue the war on bullsh**," Noah concluded, a callback to Stewart’s sign-off in August, in which he told fans that "The best defense against bullsh** is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something."
Noah already has himself at least one famous fan-- albeit an unusual one. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson -- who used to poke fun at Stewart for The Daily Show’s opening credits, which showed the Earth rotating in the incorrect direction -- tweeted his praise of Noah’s scientifically-accurate debut.
"Congratulations to @TrevorNoah tonight," Tyson tweeted. "@TheDailyShow's new opening credits now show Earth rotating in the correct direction."
Congratulations to @TrevorNoah tonight. @TheDailyShow's new opening credits now show Earth rotating in the correct direction.