Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mixed South African Comedian Studies Black Culture in America Trevor Noah



Good Evening. I grew up in South Africa. That's where I still live, and I enjoy it. Grew in a time called the partite. For those who don't know, partite is a law in our country that made it illegal for black and white people to interact with one another. You know. It was against the law. So this law was awkward for me growing up cause I grew up in a mixed family. Well me being the mix one in the family. My mother was a black woman. Born in south Africa. That's part of the language is the click. My father is Swiss. They didn't care. You know. They were mavericks, fighting the system. My mom was arrested for being with my dad. She'll get fined. She'll get thrown in prison for the weekend. And still she comes back, "I don't care. I don't care. Come tell me what you love. I want a white man. Oooo." She's crazy, my mom. You know. And my dad, was also like Swiss. He can't have enough chocolate. So he was... He was in there. You know.

So they got together, and they had me, which was illegal, so I was born a crime, which is something they never thought through. Because as a family, we could not live together. You know. Like in the streets, we couldn't even be seen together. My father had to walk on the other side of the road. He would wave at me from afar like a creepy Pedophile. I didn't have to say creepy. I mean like a Pedophile. Creepy and maybe some other Pedophile. Actually there is none. There's no classy Pedophile. No need. Like, "Afternoon ladies. Afternoon. No. No. Just browsing. It's so classy." No. No. It's a Pedophile. My mom could walk with me, could walk with me. But if the police shows up, she has to let go of my hand and drop me. Then act like it was not hers, every single time. Cause we're suppose not to exist as a family, so my mom would let go. It's like a little game we play. Like police would show up, "whooow." She be like, "ooops. I don't know. I don't know. No. It's not mine. It's not mine." It was horrible for me. I felt like a bag of weed.

It was a tough time. The down side of being light was just that I was different. People mocked me, calling me names like mix breed, half cause. Why half? Why half? Why not double? Or twice as nice? I don't know. They can give you weird names. I wanted to be black to be honest. That's what I ever wanted. Especially when I was growing up, I met an American. And uh. He was shocked that in South Africa we have all these titles. He said to me, "Well you know. Trevor. If you come to America, they will label you as black. I said, "really?" He goes, "Hell yeah. Ha ha ha. Yeah, everybody is black out there. Yeah, you'll be super black." I'm like, "Well, that sounds good to me, super black."

I made a choice. First chance I get to America, I'm gonna get that piece of that black. And I did. I bought a flight. It was a 18 hours journey, Johannesburg to New York. I didn't sleep a wink. I sat there in my chair like a mad man, watching every single black american movie i can find, siting there, going crazy, practicing like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you naw what I mean. Yeah. King Kong ain't got shit on me. Yeah. Yea." I'm like, "Oh sorry. The chicken please, the chicken. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. Put it in your mouth. Yeah."

18 hours of flight, 18 hours of practice -- I landed in New York, and I was fluent in my black american, "Fo shizzle my nizzle." I had the walk. I was so black, even I was laughing. I was like, "ha ha ha. Yeah, ha ha ha. Oh my man. My man. Oh that's you? This you? This you? Ha ha ha."  That is the coolest thing in the world. Black Americans are so confident that they make you feel good about yourself just by asking if you are you. It's just magic. They just walk up to me, and "A yo, Aye Yo. Is that you? This you? Nah, nah. For reals man. This you?" And you'll be like, "yeah, I think it is." And I was that black.

I was super black. I was loving it until this guy walked up to me. He didn't even know me, didn't even know me. He tapped me on the shoulder, and was like, "Que paso? Que el anos? No? Come on papi. Que como?" I said, "Say what? Are you talking to me?" He's all, "Yeah, I'm talking to you, man. I'm just saying. We made it baby. We made it, yeah? Now that we are here. Our kind - We gotta stick together, hombre." Our kind? 18 hours of flying, and I was not black. I was Mexican. Mexican.

So I started learning Spanish. If not, why not. And I also started learning German. I learn German to connect with my father. You know. Lost contact for many years because of the partite, so now we started to learn each other, which is taking time. We are doing it slowly. I think the language will help me. You know. I don't think he's proud of me. He loves me, but I have not earned his pride. I think part of it is my job. As a comedian, I don't rank that high world of German anythings. Comes across in a small conversation. You know. One day we were having lunch, my dad looks at me, "Trevor, what do you do now, eh? You got a job? You work?" I said, "yeah dad, I'm a comedian, stand up comedian." So, "yeah, yeah, a clown, yeah?"

German is holding me back. I dream impressing him with his language. I go to his house one day. He'll welcome meet me at the gate, "Oh, ah, clown boy." I'll be like, "Guten tag father." It's epic. It gots that feeling. So I started learning. I learn in different ways. You know. Watch German movies. Play German speeches in my iPod. When I sleep, your brains remember things that you don't know. That is beautiful. The only hiccup was I downloaded some of Hitler's speeches. It's not like google warned me. Don't judge me. Google was not like, "not those ones." They just let me download everything. And uh. So I learned some of his nuances, not his philosophies. It's just that. I was told that when I speak german sometimes I sound like instinctively Hitler-ish.

Which I found out in Germany is not the best place to find out that you got Hitler vibes. I would rather find that at home. And uh. It's funny now, not much so then. I was in Cologne, Germany - Beautiful area. I would never forget. I was walking around. I went into like a sandwich shop - One of those subways where you make your own sandwich. I walked in. The woman was really nice to me. She was like, "Guten tag." I looked at her, and I was like, "Confidence Trevor. Confidence." I was like, "Guten tag. Ich en nine." At least she said I was black.

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