Former Daily Show host Trevor Noah has won the Dutch Erasmus Prize, a prestigious award that hasn’t been awarded to a comedian since Charlie Chaplin in 1965.
The Erasmus Prize is named after the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, who lived from 1466 to 1536. Awarded annually since 1958, the prize celebrates “a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts, in Europe and beyond.”
As of 2015, the award comes with a cash prize of €150,000.
The first award in 1958 was given to the people of Austria, and in recent years, winners have included Israeli author David Grossman, British artist Grayson Perry, and in 2015 it was awarded to the Wikipedia Community.
The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation said in a statement that Noah, 39, was receiving the prize “for his inspired contribution to the theme ‘In Praise of Folly,’ named after Erasmus’s most famous book, which is filled with humour, social criticism and political satire.”
The foundation added: “With his sharp-minded, mocking yet inclusive political comedy, Noah, in the eyes of the jury, upholds the ‘Erasmian Spirit.’”
The South African comedian rose to prominence in his country’s comedy scene before relocating to the US where he became involved in the talk show scene. He became the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman.
After he became a regular contributor to The Daily Show in 2014, he succeeded host Jon Stewart in 2015.
The Dutch foundation noted that Noah’s time anchoring the satirical late night talk show coincided with the presidency of Donald Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Noah hosted The Daily Show for seven years, announcing his departure last year.
“With his astute reflections on such issues, he garnered a young, diverse and global audience and, in the process, infused a highly polarised media landscape with a breath of fresh air,” the foundation said.
The only other comedian to have received the award is Charlie Chaplin who shared the 1965 award with Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.