Acknowledging systemic issues through comedy
Trevor Noah was able to bring attention to important issues through laughter at UMBC's annual homecoming comedy show. Photo by Winston Zhou.

Acknowledging systemic issues through comedy

The recent visit of Trevor Noah to UMBC’s campus drew an enormous crowd to the Retriever Activities Center. People were buzzing about how excited they were to see their favorite comedian right here in Baltimore, Maryland. Boy, did “The Daily Show” host deliver.

It was clear the night was going to be a success when over 3,000 people stood in line to enter the RAC, hours before the show was going to start. The line ran all the way down academic row and wrapped back around into the parking lot near Fine Arts.

From talking about the eclipse this year, to how trap music sounds like a toddler throwing a fit, Noah had the crowd howling with laughter. It was amazing how he was able to bring in serious topics, like climate change and racism, and make jokes about them while still preserving the importance of discussing such pressing matters.

Some of the jokes he made definitely swayed on the edge of uncomfortable. One such joke was when he said that ISIS should claim responsibility for hurricanes because at least then, something will get done about the damage hurricanes have caused.

Through this statement, however, Noah was able to bring attention to the fact that many Americans are continuing to neglect the issue of climate change and want to find someone to blame before taking action. In the end, he got this point across, even though his joke could be seen as risky.

This kind of comedy is very important when it comes to huge issues in society that people are refusing to acknowledge. By poking fun at the stances taken on these issues, people begin to see how alarmingly true Noah’s statements are. Additionally, presenting these issues in a lighthearted, comedic environment allows people to let down their guard and not feel attacked when their views are questioned.

Bridget Anger, a sophomore chemical engineering major, resonates with this necessity to avoid attacking people with differing views. “He emphasizes how it’s important to talk with people who have different views than you on certain issues, even if it’s not really comfortable,” she said, noting that Trevor Noah is careful to show respect to those with differing ideologies.

One subject that really stood out in the show was how in the near future, white people will not be the majority in the country anymore. Noah commented on how some white people are deathly afraid of this happening, and for good reason: “They’re afraid that people of color will do to white people what white people did to them.”

This is a powerful statement, as it acknowledges that the fear stems from an understanding of how awfully people of color have been treated in this country. Once again, the issue of systemic racism is brought back to the surface.

Trevor Noah’s hilarious comedic tone left the crowd cheering and wanting more, but this event did more than make a couple people laugh. It allowed the members of UMBC’s community to acknowledge the current societal issues in a lighthearted way, opening the minds and eyes of those who have felt too guarded to do so before.