Platon Gets In There with Trevor Noah
When Jon Stewart retired from The Daily Show no one knew who would be capable of replacing him. Whoever it would be would have a big job in front of them, and there was more than a little bit of shock when Comedy Central named Trevor Noah. All attention immediately focused on the little known South African comedian, and a deluge of scrutiny hit his first couple weeks as host like more than a ton of bricks. But now, a year and a half after taking over the desk he’s finding his stride, earning him the cover of Time Magazine. The publication brought on Platon to capture a portrait of a man who has become one of the most consequential voices in the political media. But even though Noah’s job is talking to millions of Americans every day, the shoot was markedly different from that experience. “It was one of the quietest shoots I’ve ever had. It’s the most intense shoot he’s ever been in, that’s for sure,” says Platon. “He was not expecting me to just tear down walls that fast and just get in there.”
But Platon did get in there, as he always does.
Platon’s whole process is to remove the masks of polite society we cover ourselves with, and some performers have masks that are much thicker and more carefully constructed than most other people. But all Platon had to do was remind Noah of his crucial role in this cultural moment. “He finds himself as one of the emerging leaders in society,” Platon explains. “He finds himself as one of the cultural provocateurs, as I am. And this is not a picture of him in a magazine this is a moment, a tipping point in his life and his career when he realizes that what he has is a platform and he now has to use that platform not just to comment on current history but actually drive it. And so that took over our shoot.” Sometimes gravity sucks the sound out the room, and little needs to be said. These two men were quiet as they explored the meaning behind these moments and simply presented the reality of them.
When Jon Stewart was in the chair he used to jokingly beg Donald Trump to run for President because, as a comedian, Stewart wanted to lampoon the man. But time worked out that Noah was behind the desk for the election, catapulting him into a unique moment while learning a job that is already a monumental task in the best of times. But even if it’s not the perfect circumstances, we all live in the times that we live in, and the question is how to do the best job with what we have. “It’s that feeling that we all need to be useful now,” says Platon. “You’ve got to find the human condition to bring people willingly into the center, not by lecturing or guilt tripping them but by letting them feel that they are at stake in this story, we’re all at stake in this story, no matter what we believe in politics.”