I was lucky enough to catch Trevor Noah perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival about four years ago, long before he'd become a household name in the US for hosting the Daily Show. It's not every day you hear of a South African comic selling out the Pleasance multiple nights in a row, with the backing and praise of the likes of Stephen Fry and Billy Connolly, so of course I was going to go (with the help of a gift from my parents, of course). The result was one of the funniest and cleverest stand-up routines I've seen, either in person or televised, so when I saw that he had a new show out on Netflix it shot up our watchlist.
Afraid of the Dark is a routine performed by a much more experienced comic than the one I saw in Edinburgh, with exceptional timing and a clear narrative arc. Noah has matured brilliantly, both in his comedy and his role as a political and cultural pundit. Some of his comedy is so biting you almost struggle to laugh, but the combination of his physicality and love of bad accents normally remedies that situation quickly. You can tell a male comedian has hit their stride when they can perform a ten-minute skit based on the power of vaginas with every woman in the audience laughing hysterically (and most of the men). On a meta note, seeing such female-centred comedy being written and performed by a man, without any mention of that duality, was incredibly refreshing. I wonder if, like many female comics, Noah found himself facing reviews claiming that "laughing about female body parts is baseline humour" or if, somehow, a man making the same jokes is somehow highbrow and intellectual...
Regardless, Afraid of the Dark was a brilliant hour-and-a-half of tightly written and frequently culturally scathing comedy. The routines were original and challenging, whilst remaining inclusive, so everything you want from a stand-up routine. It wasn't a perfect show and I didn't feel as utterly captivated as when I saw him live, but at the core, Noah presents a solid piece of entertainment that might just leave you thinking.