Comedy Central's “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah praised America for embracing other cultures while criticizing a letter he received from the ambassador of France attacking him for a recent joke he made at the expense of the French soccer team.
“I got into a little bit of trouble with the French government,” Noah told viewers in a behind-the-scenes clip released by the network on Wednesday. “France won the World Cup… I had this joke where I said Africa won the World Cup. And I was shocked at how angry a lot of French people got.”
Noah – who is a native of South Africa – explained that he received a letter from the French official and the funnyman went on to read it aloud with a stereotypical French accent. The letter scolded Noah, noting that his recent joke “legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”
“Africa won the World Cup, Africa won the World Cup, Africa won the World Cup… look at those guys. You don't get that tan by hanging out in the south of France,” Noah said with excitement in a segment that kicked off the controversy on Monday after France's 4-2 victory against Croatia on Sunday on Moscow.
Noah’s remarks weren’t received well on social media, with most French natives noting that nearly every team member, regardless of their race, was born and raised in France. As the Comedy Central star read the scathing letter, he got to a sentence that said, “The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity.”
Noah took a break from reading the letter to say, “I’m not trying to be at a--hole but I think it’s more a reflection of France’s colonialism.”
Noah eventually said he understands the criticism and studied up on the situation after receiving the letter. While Noah understood the criticism, he didn’t exactly agree. He said that “black people all over the world were celebrating the African-ness of the French players…. not in a negative way.”
Noah said he feels it’s a celebration of the fact that players with African ancestry can become French before asking, “Why can’t they be both?” He accused Araud of implying that in order to be French, an individual must “erase” the African lineage.
"America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness."
“I love those players and I love how African they are and how French they are. I don’t take their French-ness away, but I don’t think you need to take their African-ness away,” Noah said. “That is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness. You can go to a St. Patrick’s Day parade in America celebrating that you are Irish.”
Noah went on to mock the attitude of people who feel that citizens can only be French.
“I think they have a problem and not me,” he said.
Fox news’ Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.