Why are Americans ignoring Trevor Noah?

This sort of outraged advocacy was a staple of Stewart’s tenure on The Daily Show, and Noah does not, as of yet, seem to have it in him. How could Noah feel as passionate about the intricacies of the American political system as Jon Stewart, or any American? He just got here. But distance can be a good thing for satirists—John Oliver, for instance, has clearly figured out how to leverage his non-Americanness as a way to make his perspective on U.S. politics feel even sharper and more objective. But The Daily Show hasn’t decided whether to play up Noah’s outsider perspective or to pretend it doesn’t exist.

In one recent segment, Noah went from not knowing Dwight D. Eisenhower was dead to casually name-dropping Rudy Giuliani. He is flabbergasted by our news (understandably) rather than exercised about it. He recently played the rube across from correspondent Jessica Williams, psyched to see some ridiculous and insane campaign ads, leaving her with the meatier job of explaining how malevolent they really are. (Noah’s learning curve has given his correspondents, who include Williams and standouts Jordan Klepper and Roy Wood Jr., space to shine, often taking a more explanatory role than their host.)

Playing naïve has also undermined Noah in the role he seemed positioned to do best: bring his outsider status and own personal history to bear on American racial politics. On the subject of race, he’s proven himself to be an astute observer who can deliver hard truths in a brightly appealing way. His most successful bit to date was the inspired observation that Donald Trump is an African dictator, which contextualizes Trump, while demystifying Africa, all while being hilarious. Noah and the writers have integrated more racial humor and commentary into the show than it had before, to say nothing of dramatically diversifying the series’ guests. Race is mentioned in nearly every episode, sometimes in unexpected ways, as in a riff about an app that can ask questions of the Founding Fathers: When Thomas Jefferson gets a look at Noah, he freaks out: “Holy shit, it’s a negro!”