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Grammy Host Trevor Noah on What Makes a Great Show and Why He’s Glad Travis Kelce Likely Won’t Attend

Mr. Nimbus | 01/31/2024

As Trevor Noah prepares to return to the host the Grammy Awards for the fourth time on Feb. 4, he finds himself facing a new situation; not only is he the host, he’s a nominee for the 66th edition of the awards as his album, I Wish You Would, is nominated for best comedy album. 


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Noah is the fifth Grammy host to also be a nominee in the same year, but Kenny Rogers is the only host who heard his name called as a winner, when “The Gambler” won best country vocal on the 1980 telecast. Noah has been nominated for best comedy album before, when Alicia Keys hosted in 2020. 

Even though he is a hosting veteran, Noah tells Billboard he still gets nervous beforehand, and feels tremendous relief once the show is over and realizes he’s successfully eluded “the lion that was chasing us.” 

In addition to his Grammy duties, Noah also helms the Spotify podcast What Now? With Trevor Noah, which he says has allowed him to flex different muscles from when he hosted The Daily Show. “It’s having a conversation,” he says of the podcast. “The difference between a conversation and an interview is that an interview is one way, and a conversation is bi-directional, and you’re trying to create a conversation that other people want to listen to and can derive something from. I’m really reveling in the experience of creating something new that I hope can contribute to fostering conversations amongst people.” 

Below, Noah talks about his Grammy chances, what he’s learned about hosting “one award show at a time” and his feelings about Travis Kelce’s possible attendance at the ceremonies. (This interview has been edited for space and clarity.)

Do you know if best comedy album is going to be given away on air or during the pre-telecast? 

I don’t know of that right now because the running order hasn’t been completely finalized because new acts keep coming in. But either way, I’m just ecstatic to be in that category with that level of comedians. Are you kidding me? These are my idols and my friends. I’m really lucky to be amongst that ilk.

Does that make you more nervous to also be a nominee, as opposed to just host? 

It’s going to be an interesting one because I’ve never been nominated and hosting at the same time, so I don’t know if the one feeling will overcome the other way or if the two will combine into one. I only hope that I slip into the zone of hosting and then by the time my award comes, I have either completely zoned in. I just I just hope I’m in the right place.

What does that mean to slip into the zone of hosting? 

When I speak about getting into the zone, it’s a combination of remembering all of the preparation, thinking hard about what we’re there to do and then remembering how many people have worked hard to make the show what it is. So I’m in my head, I’m preparing for every contingency that I cannot prepare for and just trying to be ready for anything that could possibly go wrong in any possible moment. And then I’m also reminding myself to have fun. I’m thinking about being present in the room because I think you can miss things if you’re not present. So, it’s a lot of conflicting emotions that you’re trying to manage, but when you hit it is when you’re in the zone. 

That sounds exhausting.

Can I tell you — it is. It is. I have yet to go to an afterparty for the Grammys. My record was I think seven minutes when we were in Vegas [in 2022]. I sat down at a table at the after party and then I went back to my hotel room and I slept. I am exhausted after the Grammys. It’s an adrenaline dump. As soon as you say “good night,” your whole body goes, “Okay, have we successfully run away from the lion that was chasing us?” And then then your body collapses.

This is a year where women lead the nominations. SZA has nine nominations. Victoria Monet has seven; Boygenius, Brandy Clark, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift all have six nominations. It varies from year to year, but there have been years that aren’t so hospitable to women artists. What do you think about this year? 

I think it’s really fantastic. I remember many Grammy Awards, where women just really swept everything, like the year [1999] Lauryn Hill took home so many and the year [2020] where Billie Eilish completely dominated. I find in time things ebb and flow. This is definitely a year where it isn’t just about women running the biggest category, but it’s also the breadth of talents that’s pretty amazing. You have all these different genres, you have all these different points of view, you have all these different styles, you have all these different stories, all the possibilities of history being made.

I honestly appreciate and applaud that, because it’s not just about women being dominant in the category, — it’s how broad women are able to be in the music industry, I think that’s a fantastic achievement for music and something we should keep pushing for in any category. However you want to make your music, make your music, and your gender doesn’t define how that music is or isn’t received. I think that’s a wonderful message.

How much do you feed off of the energy of the opening performance? 

It completely sets the tone for the night. It sets the tone for the people in the room. It’s like, “All right, let’s go.” And what it does for me as a performer is it makes me feel like I’m part of an ensemble, so I can’t come in there after a performance that has just raised the roof and step in with languid energy. It makes me feel like I’m part of an army that is marching into this performance battle and I have to play my part. 

The record for hosting belongs to Andy Williams, who’s hosted seven times. Do you want to break his record?

I host one award show at a time. They surprise me and call me back a few months before and that’s how I live my life. 

This interview is happening before the Kansas City Chiefs play the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC championship, but if the Chiefs lose, we may have the first outing of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift together at an awards show. How are you planning for that?

Well, I’m hoping that the Chiefs don’t lose because I really like Travis. He’s like one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. He’s a really lovely guy. I met him years and years ago in the summer [in] upstate [NY]. He was just like this sweet guy. We talked about comedy and football. He was really wonderful to everyone around him. I had no clue who he was in that way. Ever since then his star has only risen. So I’m rooting for him 1000 times over. So I actually hope that I don’t see him because he’s still in the mix and he’s still doing well. But if anything changes, I’ll be ready. And that’s what being a host is all about.

As you go into the fourth year as host, how much more are you participating in the writing and in the whole process? 

I’m really lucky that under [executive producer] Ben Winston’s umbrella, he’s always trusted me when it comes to the writing, so we’re a wonderful team. It’s like dancing with a partner who knows exactly where your hips are at all times. I’m really grateful to be in such fantastic and skilled company. I collaborate as much as I can. I’m responsible for everything that comes out of my mouth. I’m responsible for everything that I write in and around the moments with my team. We’ve always been given complete leeway and I think it’s because the producers and I guess the [Recording] Academy trust me that I’m not there to spoil anybody’s night.

And, most importantly, I’m not there to make the night about me. A good Grammys is a night where you don’t remember me, but you go, “That was a great show.” A great Grammys is where you remember me and you think it was also a great show. 

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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