Trevor Noah Makes History as the Second Comedian to Win Erasmus Prize

Trevor Noah’s win makes his the first comedian to win the prestigious prize since Charlie Chaplin in 1965.

South African Comedian, Trevor Noah has won Europe’s Erasmus Prize, making him the first comedian to win the prestigious prize in nearly 60 years. The first Comedian to win was Charlie Chaplin in 1965.

Noah made history as the first South African to win the prize. The Erasmus Prize is awarded annually by the board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, to individuals or institutions that have made outstanding contribution to the humanities, culture, or social science in Europe and the rest of the world. The award consists of a cash prize of €150,000.

“He receives the prize for his inspired contribution to the theme ‘In Praise of Folly’, named after Erasmus’s most famous book, which is filled with humor, social criticism and political satire”, said a statement by Praemuim Erasmianum Foundation.

“With his sharp-minded, mocking yet inclusive political comedy, Noah, in the eyes of the jury, upholds the Erasmian Spirit”, said the statement. Noah was praised as a “humorist, television presenter, political commentator, philanthropist and author” who has “staked his claim in the world of contemporary political satire.

Noah was lauded for proving himself “to be an inspiration to budding talents and a curator of comedy shows in Africa.”  Noah was the host of the Daily Show for seven years, during the Presidency of Donald Trump, the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd.

According to the statement, Noah “garnered a young, diverse and global audience and, in the process, infused a highly polarized media landscape with a breath of fresh air.”

This is not the first time Noah has been internationally recognized for his work as a comedian. The 39-year-old won a Primetime Emmy Award from 11 nominations, he was named one of the “35 Most Powerful People in New York Media by the Hollywood Reporter in 2017 and 2018. Noah also hosted the Grammy Award shows three times in a row and in 2019, he was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Comedy Album category.

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