MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Comedian Trevor Noah is facing calls for a boycott of his “Tour Down Under” over an offensive joke he told in 2013 calling all indigenous Australian women ugly, even after he acknowledged on Monday that he had done wrong.
Noah, host of the popular Daily Show in the United States, responded after an indigenous Australian highlighted a clip of a stand-up show in 2013 where the comedian made the offensive comments, with the hashtag #boycotttrevornoahinoz.
In the footage, Noah said that “all women of every race can be beautiful,” then said: “And I know some of you are sitting there now going, ‘Oh Trevor, yeah, but I’ve never seen a beautiful Aborigine.’”
He then went on to say, “It’s not always about looks,” and pretended to play a didgeridoo, a traditional long wooden wind instrument, in a suggestive way.
The clip has since been removed from social media, after indigenous ex-footballer Joe Williams said the comments were “utterly unacceptable” especially for “a man of colour”.
“I am so disgusted and appalled by the comments by @Trevornoah and his attempted humour that denigrates Aboriginal women I hope Australians boycott his shows in #Brisbane #Sydney #Melbourne #Perth,” author Anita Heiss said on social media.
Noah responded that Williams was right.
“After visiting Australia’s Bunjilaka museum and learning about aboriginal history first hand I vowed never to make a joke like that again. And I haven’t,” he said on social media.
The controversy over Noah’s joke has arisen at a time of heightened scrutiny of indigenous issues, amid an inquest into the death in custody of a mentally ill indigenous man.
Noah is due to tour Australia in late August.
(This version of the story was refiled to add dropped words in penultimate paragraph)
Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Eric Meijer