May 20, 2024

Trevor Noah: Where Was I 2023 Movie Review

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Trevor Noah: Where Was I 2023 Movie Review

    If last we heard Noah joking about wanting to learn German to connect with the Swiss side of his family, then now we’re going to hear a whole lot more about what the comedian learned as he toured European cities he’d somehow never performed in before this past year. Including Berlin and Paris.

    Upon returning to deliver his findings to a live audience in Detroit, what does he find himself realizing about the differences between Europeans and Americans?

    Noah opens by immediately letting us know how he feels, removed from his four-nights-a-week gig behind the desk in Manhattan. “I’m having more fun in my life now,” he says, adding that he’s also enjoying America more than ever before. Wait for it…“You enjoy a place differently, when it might be ending.”

    Harkening back to America’s beginnings as America, Noah leans into modern debates over Columbus Day by noting how it’s inspirational for recognizing a white man who never set foot on the mainland, never acknowledged his failure to do so, and still got a holiday out of it, juxtaposing Columbus with the notion of a woman or black man trying to accomplish the same feat, even acting out those alternatives.

    Noah also indulges in multiple act outs to demonstrate how weird it must be for Germans to change the lyrics to their national anthem but not the music, why Americans broadcast our anthem so often only out of insecurity over nationalist loyalty, and how our singers and performers are allowed great latitude in interpreting the phrasing and arrangement of the anthem.

    And if you want to know what Noah thinks are the five whitest things white people and particularly Americans love, you’ll learn those, too, with a finale callback that feels both familiar and surprising.

    I will always take time out to applaud Noah for his thoughtfulness and perspective, and remind anyone anywhere to seek out his Emmy-winning “Between The Scenes” segments, where he would take questions from his Daily Show audiences and somehow always respond immediately with great insight and sincerity.

    But that doesn’t always mean it’s funny.

    And there are so many moments in this hour that are interrupted by waves of applause from the audience, to the point where there might actually be more audible clapter than laughter on the whole. His crowd in Detroit gives him an applause break for explaining how Germans teach kids about history without hiding the horrible Nazi era or making kids feel guilty about their ancestors, and again when he expresses his wish that American schools could do likewise. There’s more applause breaks when Noah mockingly imagines an Italian-American responding defensively to a TV reporter about Columbus Day, and then later about how America gets us fighting about things that aren’t impacting us to distract us from the real issues that deserve such fights.

    And not all of Noah’s joking observations are particularly novel, anyhow, even if you haven’t been paying close attention to the news or to history. I’m not sure jokes about Americans wearing the flag as underwear or questioning whether women ever poo are going to get the attention of the Grammy Awards, even if Noah is great at hosting them.

    Perhaps that’s part of his strategy, though. Perhaps Noah feels he needs to lure audiences in with the lowest-hanging premises and punchlines so they’ll stick around for more profound points. More of us may need reminding that female, black and gay Americans all had to fight for their right to access public bathrooms before trans Americans, whose rights are under serious threat now. “It’s why you shouldn’t bury your history,” Noah tells us.

    Trevor Noah: Where Was I 2023 Movie Review