Emmy award-winning comedian Trevor Noah has offered to visit an Indigenous community after he came under fire for making crude, derogatory jokes about Aboriginal women.
“Always open to learning more,” tweeted Noah, who did not apologise directly for the controversial comments, which were labelled “nauseating” and “revolting”.
The jokes were made during a 2013 routine that resurfaced on social media on July 22.
South African Noah – a favourite with critics and called “wry” and “compelling” by The New York Times – vowed on Monday “never to make a joke like that again”.
The 34-year-old was initially called out by former NRL player Joe Williams, who called the routine “utterly unacceptable” and shared it on Twitter.
It prompted headlines and social media anger, and was slammed as insensitive by other prominent Indigenous Australians.
The video was swiftly taken down, but the controversy led to calls for fans to boycott Noah’s tour of Australia in August, including the creation of a hashtag #boycotttrevornoahinoz.
University of Queensland lecturer and Indigenous broadcaster Chelsea Bond told the ABC Noah’s comments were a “real slap in the face” and called for an apology from the comedian.
“He didn’t say sorry — there was no apology, it was a defence,” she said.
“Having the video removed was redemptive to him but not to Aboriginal women.
“He’s not sorry — he just wants this to disappear before his show.”
She added that his words were even more hurtful because the South African’s sophisticated and clever comedy on race had made Indigenous women believe they were included and had a voice.
“Typically black people want to see that the world will treat us fairly so it’s a real slap in the face and a reminder of our place in the world,” she said.
“That’s a real kick in the guts.”
The routine, which originally aired in Noah’s stand-up special It’s My Culture, made jokes about the appearance of Aboriginal women.
“All women of every race can be beautiful,” Noah, who took over from Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show in 2015, said during the set.
“And I know some of you are sitting there now going, ‘Oh Trevor … I’ve never seen a beautiful Aborigine.’
“But you know what you say? You say, ‘Yet.’ Because you haven’t seen all of them, right?
“Plus it’s not always about looks, maybe Aborigine women do special things, maybe they’ll just like, jump on top of you.”
Noah then cupped his hands to imitate the sound of a didgeridoo.
Williams, who is Indigenous, was scathing on Twitter:
Hey @Trevornoah, your comments about Aboriginal @IndigenousX in this clip are utterly unacceptable! As a man of colour, you are usually in point with racism & divide – here you are perpetrating & encouraging racial abuse!! #boycotttrevornoahinoz https://t.co/UNXE8TlBtq RT
— Joe Williams – TEW (@joewilliams_tew) July 22, 2018
Writer and academic Anita Heiss tweeted that she was “disgusted and appalled” by Noah’s comments.
She called on fans to boycott his $132-a-ticket shows in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in August.
“That kind of ‘humour’ is not funny and does damage!” Ms Heiss wrote.
Our women are beautiful. Stunning. Powerful. Survivors. Thrivers. So shocked to learn @trevornoah used us and our beauty as the butt end of an unintelligent joke. He’s recognised his mistake and has removed the official video but needs to apologise. Thanks to @joewilliams_tew @dranitaheiss and the many others for calling him out on Twitter. … Sourced this photo from the IDIDJ Australia Facebook page. The description reads ‘Young woman, maybe Larrakia, Iwaidja or related people, Darwin region, Northern Territory, circadian 1880’s. Photo ‘credit’/voyeuristic genocide: Paul Foelsch … Paul Foelsch was a police officer in the late 1880’s and was brutal, violent and ‘merciless with Aboriginals’. Referring to his ‘Nigger Hunt’. #trevornoah #decoloniseyourbody #decoloniseyourmind #decolniseyourcomedy
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Other users, including former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s daughter Jessica Rudd, called Noah’s routine “shameful” and “disgusting”.
“I’m so tired of Aboriginal women being used as punchlines for cheap laughs. We deserve so much better,” wrote one.
Said another, “I’m so disappointed. He was one of the good eggs.”
Noah responded to the criticism, agreeing it was inappropriate.
He said he “vowed” to not make jokes like his 2013 routine again after learning about Aboriginal history while visiting the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre at the Melbourne Museum: “And I haven’t.”
He promised: “I’ll make sure the clip from 2013 is not promoted in any way.”
Wrote one still-outraged social media user, “Seriously that’s it? That’s all we get for a response? No apology? This man needs to see our community up close.”
Williams followed up, saying he was “still waiting” to hear if “he’ll let me take him to community for some cultural awareness” and to “apologise to our staunch and beautifully caring women.
“Over to you brother.”
Noah’s responded quickly.
“I’d love to visit another community in Oz. Always open to learning more”, he wrote with a prayer-hands emoji.
Noah also drew criticism when he tweeted last week that Africa had won the World Cup, not France, in a reference to the soccer team’s racial diversity.