LOS ANGELES – Hulk Hogan is a racist — but he should not be shunned, says Trevor Noah, incoming host of “The Daily Show.”
“I don’t think Hulk Hogan is a bad person,” the South African comic argued. “I don’t think most racists are bad people. I think they suffer from something. It is learned from parents. It is a generational thing.”
Hogan, 61, suffered a potentially career ending setback last week when audio from a secretly recorded years-old sex tape was found to contain an angry bigoted rant, including multiple uses of the N-word.
He was immediately fired from the WWE.
“We can’t just cut people off,” Noah told reporters after a private stand-up comedy show in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. “That is not sustainable and it doesn’t heal anything. We don’t move forward from that.”
He added, “I don’t know why we don’t try to help people. There is a way we can tackle [racism]. Anything you are taught you can be untaught.”
Noah, 31, will take over the long-running Comedy Central series in late September.
Current host Jon Stewart steps down August 6.
“I think of it as an evolution rather than a revolution,” he said of the transition. “I am a big fan of ‘The Daily Show,’ so for me to break it would be blasphemy in my world.”
The format of the program we remain largely the same and Noah will retain most of the current writing staff, he said.
“Things will change a little bit, but we are not going for a major overhaul,” he said. “Right now I am looking at finding a way to incorporate the newer [social] media into the show while still keeping the core of what the show is. I look at the show like a car. This is the updated model but you should still see the classic signatures.”
Noah — who admits to sharing his predecessor’s left-leaning political views — says he was initially apprehensive about taking over hosting duties during a presidential election cycle... until Donald Trump joined the race.
“When he came in I was like, ‘Wow. This is fun!’” he said. “I hope he stays for not too long that it becomes a problem, but long enough that we get to have fun with it.”
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” premieres Sept. 28 on Comedy Central.