Late night TV hosts have, one by one, and in their particular ways, been responding to Friday’s tragedy in Paris — it’s an odd role, shifting from typical sardonic wit about the idiocy of extremist politics to being the messenger of sentiments surrounding the tragedy of what extremist politics can sometimes engender. Last night, it was Trevor Noah’s turn to address the world’s current state of shock after recent ISIS-claimed attacks: the more mediatized Paris attacks and the Beirut bombing the day prior.
Noah struck a sober tone — with only one tepid joke about Ronda Rousey thrown in — for The Daily Show‘s segment on the attacks:
Every attack, whether it’s Paris, Beirut, Kenya, is less about a specific group, and more about an attack on humanity itself… One thing that made me smile is the people of Paris showed us that the only way to overcome any inhumanity is humanity. There are taxis that turn off their meters to get people home for free, there’s lines and lines of people waiting to donate blood… to the people of France, I commend you. I will say that you’re ruining our cultural stereotypes, because the French are supposed to be cold and unwelcoming, and who do we make jokes about now? Finland? Because we will.
It is in these moments that late night hosts become more than just commentators, or entertainment: we look to them, hoping they’ll convey or elucidate some higher notion of a universal feeling of sadness. They often become, and rise to the occasion of becoming, the eulogizers at the world’s innumerable mass-funerals. (John Oliver’s response, however, provided a refreshing alternative to these expectations.) They are often at once helpful, human, and, like any eulogy, never quite sufficient.
“Let’s not forget, before we fight, to love,” Noah concluded.