Anything is funny according to Trevor Noah
For South African comedian Trevor Noah, no subject is taboo.
"I believe you can make anything funny," he says on the phone from New York where he's about to step on stage. "I don't believe any topic needs to be taboo, but the point of view you tackle the topic from is everything."
Noah is touring his new show, Lost in Translation, in New Zealand this month and performs in Wellington on Saturday.
"It's a new show. Really it sums up most of my life right now, a series of unfortunate and fortunate events which I talk about in my comedy. It touches on everything from World Cup football through to Nelson Mandela's funeral," Noah says.
His shows in Auckland last year quickly sold out and it's easy to see why. Noah is a tremendously funny and fascinating comedian.
A mixed-race child, Noah was born to a black mum and a white, Swiss, father during the time of apartheid in South Africa even though such relationships were illegal then.
His twin heritage is fodder for some of his material, but, as he tells it, he's inherited both the ballsy approach of his mother and the bone-dry sensibilities of his father.
"There was no stand-up comedy in South Africa when I was growing up. It wasn't a thing. I try and enjoy it every day. It's my hobby and my job."
His comedic routines contain contentious topics but his delivery is soft and as thought-provoking as it is humorous. It is this mix that has amassed him fans around the world. In the past two years he has played sold-out shows from New York to Europe.
"You meet people from all over the world that influence you. They give you a different view on life, they give you their experiences. It has helped me shape my comedy."
His face has graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and he performed live on The David Letterman Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"There are very few shows out there that comedians can aspire to, I'm honoured to have appeared on both of those shows. It was fantastic."
At the 2012 Montreal Comedy Festival his sold-out solo performances of The Racist, presented by British comedian Eddie Izzard, was one of the most talked-about shows at the event.
"I'm not a confrontational person. I like talking about the issues of the world, things that I feel are pertinent to what's happening in my life and the lives of people around me. I try and keep my comedy as honest, in terms of who I am, as possible."
He has more than 3 million fans on Facebook and Twitter, and describes social media as a "wonderful medium" to connect with his audience.
Noah says his family initially had "no clue" about his choice of career but they are happy for him.
"All my mum ever wanted was for me to move out and not need money from her, so she's happy, and my dad doesn't understand it but he's also happy. They enjoy it now."
Before becoming a comedian he worked for two years as a radio DJ, filling the 3am slot during weekends.
"Comedy was a hobby, I didn't know it would one day pay my bills."
At 18, he landed a role in South African soap opera Isidingo, and says he "stumbled into it".
"I always wanted to be an extra on TV because I thought it would be a great job. You don't have to learn lines," he says with a laugh. "I stumbled on to the set one day by mistake and I got cast in a role on a soap opera, which I hated because then I had to remember lines. I played a gangster which is totally not me."
Last year he tore the ligaments in his knee while playing soccer.
He spent time in a wheelchair.
"It's how comedy works, when it's happening you're not having a good time but afterwards you find stuff that you can relate to people."
One thing he learnt was that no matter what the situation, people expect comedians to always be funny.
"It's weird. It's the same as assuming that Mike Tyson just punches people in the street.
"When I went for my surgery for my knee, the people in the hospital were making jokes. Someone asked if they could take a photo. I was wearing one of those gowns with my ass out. I said: 'This is not the best time to be taking a photo', and they were like 'come on, it's funny'. Having surgery is not funny."
If possible, he'd like to continue being a stand-up man into old age.
"I love my life. If I could get to be like Bill Cosby, still doing shows and still a funny guy at 80, that would be wonderful." Fairfax NZ
- Trevor Noah performs at Wellington's Opera House on Saturday.
- The Dominion Post