First, Trevor Noah called out Joe Rogan for his racist commentary about what it means to be “Black.” Then, he reluctantly defended the podcaster’s “refreshing” apology for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. So when he started in on the topic once more during Monday night’s episode of The Daily Show, it wasn’t clear at first which direction he was going to go.
But when he arrived at the latest controversy surrounding Rogan’s repeated use of the “N-word” over many years, Noah did not hold back.
“If there’s ever a video of you saying the ‘N-word’ that many times,” the host said after sharing the viral montage, “you’d better pray one of two things. Either you’re a Black person or you’re a dead person from history. Because then the worst thing they can do is take your statue down and move it into a museum.”
And yet Noah chose instead to focus on an “even worse” part of the video, in which Rogan told a story about going to see Planet of the Apes in a Black neighborhood and joked, “We walked into Planet of the Apes, we walked into Africa.”
“Wow,” Noah replied, taking a long pause. “That video’s so bad it actually made me miss the ‘N-word’ video.”
Later, the host dug into the recent apology Rogan delivered, in which he straight-up denied calling Black people “apes” and insisted that his only aim was to be “entertaining” on his podcast.
“First of all, he said he would never say that Black people are apes, but he said that! That’s literally what he said!” Noah shot back. “It’s not just racist. That’s O.G. racism. That’s the original, old-school racism. That’s on the Mount Rushmore of racism. ‘Black people are apes’ is right next to burning crosses and every Bugs Bunny cartoon from the 1940s.”
“It’s not just racist. That’s O.G. racism. That’s the original, old-school racism. That’s on the Mount Rushmore of racism. ‘Black people are apes’ is right next to burning crosses and every Bugs Bunny cartoon from the 1940s.”
But on top of that, Noah said he found Rogan’s assertion that he wasn’t being “racist” but just “being entertaining” particularly “illuminating.”
“No, Joe, I think you were using racism to be entertaining,” Noah said. Even if Rogan wasn’t specifically trying to “offend” Black people, “you knew that offending Black people would get a laugh out of those white friends that you were with.”
Then, in what could only be taken as a direct response to comedians like Whitney Cummings and others who defended their friend over the weekend by explaining that “it’s our job to be irreverent and dangerous,” Noah explained something else important about jokes.
“Just because something is a joke doesn’t mean it can’t be something else as well,” he said. “Because a joke can be racist. In fact, a joke can be racist and funny if you’re telling it to the right crowd. Someone can find it funny, but the laughs don’t mean that there’s no racism.”
As proof, he pointed to something Joe Rogan said about his own Planet of the Apes “joke,” just moments after he made it. “That was a racist thing for me to say,” he admitted at the time.
The only reason he’s denying it now, Noah argued, is that he doesn’t want to be branded “a racist” for life. “As for Joe Rogan, he says he’s learned his lesson, and I hope he has” the host concluded. “But I will say, if I were him, I wouldn’t walk into a cinema in a Black neighborhood for a little while.”
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