Trevor Noah has attributed his standup skills to his mother, Patricia Noah, who he described as the first true comedian he ever saw.
Patricia Noah grew up when South Africa was under the racial legislation of Apartheid—a system of segregation that lasted 50 years. Under Apartheid, Patricia risked imprisonment by giving birth to Trevor, whose father was white. The possibility of imprisonment forced her to raise Trevor in partial secrecy.
“I thought that I was the hero of my story, [but] in writing it I came to realise over time that my mom was the hero,” Trevor said in 2016. “I was lucky enough to be in the shadow of a giant.”
“My grandmother kept me locked in the house when I was staying with the family in Soweto,” said Trevor.
“My mom was the first true comedian I ever saw,” said Trevor. “She’s like a clown when you talk to her. She’s very animated. She pulls faces. She changes her voice. Physically, she could do funny things. She’s comfortable with mime. She thinks like a standup without realising it… These were just natural talents that she possessed and she passed them down to me.”
“We’ve overcome a lot because of laughter,” said Trevor. “I think that’s why I love comedy so much, it’s because it’s the thing that has kept my family going through every single type of adversity.”