As mentioned before on this site, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was a central piece of my media consumption as I grew up, keeping me entertained while also making me far more skeptical of politicians and the press. Over time, my brain has processed over a decade's worth of broadcasts into an unrepresentative sample of highlights and profound moments, including Stewart's stellar guest appearance on CNN's Crossfire and his manic Glenn Beck impression. On a day to day basis, however, The Daily Show was "just" an entertaining and well-written comedy with the occasional insightful point or pointed jab.
Trevor Noah's first two episodes at the helm of a rebooted The Daily Show bare this out. I think it's completely unreasonable for anyone to expect Noah to do something wildly daring, impactful, or inventive from the word go. He could very well rise to the occasion and act as the powerful voice of reason that Stewart so often was during difficult moments that our country faced. For now, it's impressive that he (along with The Daily Show's talented writers, correspondents, and production staff) has been able to handle the transition so smoothly.
With an infectious smile and a palpable sense of confidence, Noah easily rattled off witty one-liners about the Pope's recent visit to the United States, John Boener's surprise resignation announcement, and more. A couple of jokes landed poorly (including an "aids or aides" groaner that even the audience winced at), but even in those cases, he shrugged it off and wasted no time getting to the next bit. While the interviews that he conducted in these first two episodes were a little dull and too short to really go anywhere, this also happened to be the case for the vast majority of Stewart's interviews.
Honestly, the biggest weakness of The Daily Show at this point has nothing to do with the host. Under Stewart, the show was so incredibly successful at generating new talent in this space that several previous correspondents have gone on to create shows that are arguably better. John Oliver, for example, takes advantage of HBO's commercial-free format by allowing individual stories to run for 12+ minutes, giving him ample time to explore complex topics and bring in original research and investigative reporting carried out by his own staff. Stephen Colbert, meanwhile, has access to a much wider pool of guests and greater resources over at The Late Show, and he has already demonstrated his talent as an interviewer.
The Daily Show will, somewhat ironically, need to figure out what its niche will be in this new late-night landscape that it helped to create. Noah is clearly having a lot of fun on stage, and this energy is a welcome departure from Stewart's (completely understandable) exasperation and world-weariness, and he seems up to the challenge. For now, I'll likely consume this show in the same way that I already have been for a couple of years now: catching up on segments that breakthrough and generate a lot of discussion, but not tuning in on a nightly basis.