Trevor Noah: African American

  • Season 1, Ep 1
  • 02/27/2016

In Trevor Noah's stand-up special, he explains the difference between being mixed race in America and South Africa, talks about learning how to be black and hones his singular perspective on identity and culture.

And by far thecoolest thing of all,

coolest thing ofall, is the talk.

I've listened to blackAmericans and it's the

most amazing use of theEnglish language I've ever

come across in my life.


'Cause they pay no regardto punctuation whatsoever.

They just cruisethrough sentences.

It's fantastic.

First time I had aconversation with a black

American man was inBaltimore, Maryland.

This guy walked up tome after the show.

He didn't even walk.

He just floated it.



He just came up tome and he's like

[comedically]hey, yo, B., hey, yo, hey, yo.

Hey, yo let me holleratchoo for a minute, man,

let me holler atchoo.

[normal speaking voice]I said OK.

[comedically]He's like man I ain't even

gonna front, man, Iain't gonna front.

I came out here dude, Iain't even know who you

was man, I ain'teven know.

I was like here theshow I bought my girl,

we was out there.

You came out 'der and youwere doing your thing I

was like yo, man, I ain'teven know that got 'dem

yellow bones out 'der inthe motherland, man.

I was like yo, this kidbetter be funny,

man, but I ain'tgonna lie.

You came out there.

You was keeping it coming,keeping it moving.

You was just beastin' out.

I was like a'ight man,maybe this kid is the truth.


This kid wasdoing his thing.

He was keepingit out there.

I started laughing.

My girl waskillin' herself.

I was like a'ight thismofo got flow fo' sure.

You 'nah I mean?


[normal speaking voice]It's the most amazing use of

English I've ever comeacross in my life.

Just that one word alone.

Just the strength of that.

'Nah I mean?

Do you know what I mean?

[comedically]Ya 'nah I mean?

It just--


--it sums itall up, doesn't it?

It's just, you know,neither question nor statement.

It's just--like, why havewe been wasting our time

with syllablesfor so long?

I don't understand.


[comedically] It was a crazy daytoday you know what I mean?

[comedically] Yo, that shitwas cray, ya 'nah I mean?

It just--


It just flows.

It's magical.

It says it all.

I feel like I've wastedyears of my life without

'nah I mean.


I wish I could go backin time and relive

my favorite moments, watchmy favorite movies again.

Seeing them bring tolive this is Sparta!

'Nah I mean?


[laughter, applause]


[laughter, applause continues]

I got to a section when fillingout the forms we don't

have back in South Africaanymore and that is

you have to fillout your race.

You know, there's a boxthat says tick your race.

And there's white, black,Hispanic, Asian, and other.


And I was looking at the womanand she was really helpful.

She was like--she was thisblond woman and she's was like

[comedically] yeah,yeah, you can go ahead

and fill out everythingyou need to and yeah,

we'll just go ahead andopen that bank account.

[normal voice] I said OK.

I don't knowwhat to do here.

And she was like

[comedically]let me have a look.

Well, you can just, yeah,you just go ahead and tick

whatever race youwanna go with.


[normal voice] I said whatdo you mean whatever race?


She was like

[comedically] well look,it's just for statistical

purposes so like you canchoose whatever you want

and then you can do it.

[normal voice] I was likechoose whatever?


I was like I've never beengiven that option before.


And I looked at the boxesand I mean, there was black.

That's the reason I came.

The black box was there.

I was like well,that's it.

I choose it.

But then I looked to theleft and there's the white

box and ohh, itlooked good.

It just--


--I mean.

Don't get me wrong.

It was the same as theother boxes but ah,

there must have been areason it was first in line.

It's just like you know?

That was primebox right there.

That was just--I looked atthat white box and I was

like mmm, yeah.


And so, I looked at herand I said any box?

And she was like

[comedically] yeah, yeah.

Any box.

[normal voice] AndI played it safe.

I said so, I cango with black?

She was like

[comedically]you know what?

A lot of themchoose black.




[normal voice] And so,just because she said

that, just becauseshe said that,

I looked at herand I said no.

You know what?

I'm white.

I'm going with white.

And then she did thisthing that I've come to

learn is the reaction ofwhite liberal woman in America.

Whenever they hearsomething or see something

that they can't trulycomprehend they don't

agree with it but for fearof being judged they

internalize their emotionsand then they almost have

like this malfunctionlike a robot.

I don't know ifyou--it's amazing to see.

'Cause as soon as I saidwhite--I said I'm going

with white, she went

[comedically] um--


--I'm sorry.

Did you say--didyou say white?

[normal voice] I said yes.



I'm white.

She's like

[comedically]oh, um, OK.




Um, OK, like white?





I've been doing shows around thecountry.

Around the world really.

I've been blessed.

And I rememberone day I'm in L.A.

and I'm doing a show andwe're sitting backstage

and this comedian comes into the backstage area

and he's got a list of allthe guys that are performing.

And so, he looks aroundand he looks at the

darkest guy in the corner,just the blackest guy

he could find.

And he goes

[comedically]hey, yo.

You the dude from Africa?


And the guy looksup and he's like

[comedically]nah man, I'm from Detroit.


He's like

[comedically]a'ight, my bad.

My bad.

My bad.

Uh, a'ight, uh, yo.

OK, Detroit.

Yeah, yeah.

You--oh, a'ight, OK cool.


OK, cool.



[normal speaking voice]And then he looks at me

for a second, does aquick calculation.

And he's like oh, a'ight,a'ight, um, yeah.


And then helooks and he goes

[comedically]yo, where you from man?

[normal voice] I saidI'm from South Africa.

He's like

[comedically]oh, oh, oh.

You the dude?


Oh damn, man.



Yo, I didn't evenknow they got--yo,

you the dude from Africa?


Man, didn'teven know they got

light-skinned [bleep]out there, man.






That's themotherland, man.

That's the motherland.

[normal voice] And all ofa sudden he just started

giving me this speech.

He's like

[comedically] man, you know,yo man, that's--yo man,

that's where wegotta be, man.

That's, you know--


--that's the motherlandout there, man.


I gots to getout there, man.

I gots to.

Yo, I gots togo home, man.


You heard?

I gots to go home.

Man, you tell them.


You tell 'em.

You tell them I'mcoming home, a'ight?


[normal speaking voice]And I was like

[laughs] we're not waiting.


' Cause I'm just--I'm fascinate--I think

that's come--that whole identity has come

from the term African-American .

This is something that'sfascinated me.

You know, it's thevery loose term.


'Cause half of the timeyou use it for people that

aren't even African.

You know?

Just use it longas you're black.

They go African-American.

But it's--what if peoplearen't from Africa?

They stillAfrican-American?

Those people from the Caribbean,from Haiti, from Jamaica.

You know?

They call--

[comedically] yeah,African-America.

Guys like

[Jamaican accent] no man,I come from Jamaica.

I no' from Africa.


I ain't neverbeen there 'fore, man.

[comedically] He'slike you wanna stay?

[Jamaican accent]African-American, man.


[laughter, applause]

[normal voice] The prefixto American has become as

important as American itself.

I thought it was justAmerican but it's not.

No, no, no.

It's very importantyou have the prefix.

You know, you haveAfrican-American.


You have otherslike Latin-

or Mexican-American.

You have Asian-American.

You have--the mostinteresting for me was

Indian-American which I learnedabout during Thanksgiving.


And then I was told I'm nolonger allowed to say this.

Said I now have tosay Native American.

Which is redundant,is it not?


Because if somebody'sa native of the land

they're still in shouldyou not then just

call them American?


How does that work?

[laughter continues,applause]